(Reuters) – England spinner Jack Leach said he put the dreadful memories of his 2019 New Zealand tour behind him and is approaching the two-test series against Tim Southee’s team with a more relaxed outlook.
The 31-year-old left-arm spinner was left fearing for his life in 2019 when he spent 48 hours in hospital following a bout of sepsis triggered by his ongoing management of Crohn’s disease involving immunosuppressants.
“I was really struggling. But that’s all in the past and I’m having too much fun to get ill now, so hopefully it stays that way,” Leach told British media after arriving in Hamilton on Tuesday for a tour match.
“(Crohn’s) can be stress related. Maybe being a little bit more relaxed is helping that side of my health. Fingers crossed it stays that way.”
Leach is enjoying the backing he gets from test coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes. He claimed 46 test wickets last year, the most for England, though he would have preferred the average of 38.28 to be in the lower 30s.
“It’s been probably the most important thing for me, that backing and feeling like I belong,” Leach said.
“I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can and do as much as I can for the team. I view things slightly differently, just how fun it is winning games.
“I would never think that average of 38 would mean 46 wickets in the past, maybe 20 wickets, 2.5 an over and not looking like taking a wicket.
“I’d love that to be 31, 32, but I know the only way I can do that is by bowling better, not safer. I need to be braver.”
The series begins on Feb. 16 at Mount Maunganui and the second test is scheduled in Wellington from Feb. 24.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford)
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