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Jack Leach to undergo surgery for knee injury

Jack Leach is set to have surgery on his left knee to remove the remaining swelling that cut short his Test tour of India.

England’s left-arm spinner sustained the injury during the first Test in Hyderabad after jarring his knee on the ground while diving near the boundary on day one. The injury was exacerbated the next morning following another blow in the field, limiting him to a handful of four-over spells. Leach was still able to get through 36 overs in the match, as the tourists triumphed by 28 runs to take a 1-0 series lead.

Such was the extent of the swelling Leach could not bend his knee, and a lack of improvement subsequently ruled him out of the second Test. The Somerset man travelled with the team to Abu Dhabi for their mid-series break. It was here the management decided the best course of action was for him to return home to recover fully. He will have his operation on Tuesday.

“I’m going to have an operation to get the rest of the swelling out because it’s not budging,” Leach told BBC Radio 5 Live on Saturday. “It was the second ball of the first innings in the field so that whole game I was playing with this knee problem.

“I obviously knocked it a few times throughout that game and it has just created a long period of recovery. I need to get the operation done and then hopefully I can get back to playing cricket. I’d love to have a run of playing cricket and getting into a bit of a rhythm again and hopefully that can happen again once I’ve got this sorted.”

Leach has been Ben Stokes’ go-to spinner, taking 47 of his 126 wickets under his tenure. He has also been a vital part of the dressing room culture, having played 14 of the 22 matches since head coach Brendon McCullum took charge.

Leach was due to play a pivotal role in the ongoing India series, particularly as the leader of an inexperienced spin attack made up of Tom Hartley, Rehan Ahmed and Shoaib Bashir. He presented Bashir, his Somerset team-mate, with his maiden cap ahead of the second Test in Visakhapatnam.

The latest stalling of a 36-cap career joins a long list of setbacks for the 32-year-old. Leach, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, had just come back from missing the Ashes last summer due to a stress fracture of the back. He was also ruled out of Stokes’ first Test as permanent captain after sustaining a concussion in the field on day one against New Zealand in Lord’s in 2022.

In the winter of 2019, he contracted a life-threatening bout of sepsis which limited him to one Test in that series, and saw him play no part in the tour of South Africa that followed at the start of 2020.

England’s home summer gets underway at Lord’s on July 10 with the first of three Tests against West Indies. England will hope Leach will be back by then and match-fit, with Somerset’s County Championship season starting on April 5 away to Kent.

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