Steve Smith sends message to England after Jack Leach is ruled out of Ashes
Steve Smith says England have ‘some big shoes to fill’ as they decide who will replace Jack Leach in their Ashes squad this summer, with the spinner ruled out through injury.
Leach, 31, was the only specialist spinner selected in England’s 16-player squad for the first two Ashes Tests, but he will miss out after suffering a stress fracture in his lower back.
England are still deciding on a replacement for the man who has taken 124 wickets in 35 Tests, and Smith warns them that it is no each task to replace the Somerset star.
‘Obviously the news of Leachy broke yesterday, I think it’s a real shame, he’s done really well for England the last 12-18 months in particular,’ Smith told a press conference.
‘It’s gonna be some big shoes for them to fill, I don’t know what way they’ll go but big shoes to fill.
‘I obviously feel for him, he wants to be involved in big series, Ashes series. Hopefully he recovers well.’
The first Ashes Test gets underway on Friday 16 June at Edgbaston and a replacement for Leach is expected to be announced imminently.
The options appear to be Liam Dawson, Rehan Ahmed, Will Jacks or even tempting Moeen Ali out of Test retirement to take on the spinning role, while England could also choose to pick another seamer and just leave Joe Root to turn his arm over at the other end, taking the pressure off a not-fully-fit Ben Stokes.
Michael Atherton has backed Dawson as the most obvious replacement to take on the role that Leach fills.
‘It’s a desperate blow for him. He’s had a fair bit to contend with over his international career with sepsis, Crohn’s and various illnesses and injuries,’ Atherton told Sky Sports.
‘If you want an absolute like-for-like replacement then Liam Dawson is a steady, experienced left-arm spinner. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
‘The other issue is [Ben] Stokes’ knee. They may decide to play the extra seamer at Edgbaston and just have Root as a spinner because they’re unsure about Stokes’ knee.’
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