Why Jack Leach opened the bowling ahead of James Anderson

England bowling coach Jon Lewis has revealed that the visitors took a leaf out of India’s book while deciding to open the bowling with left-arm spinner Jack Leach instead of James Anderson in India’s second innings in Chennai.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin opened the bowling in England’s second innings and finished with excellent figures of 6 for 61. According to Lewis, there was enough in the surface to prompt England to adopt a similar tactic.

Speaking to the media at the end of the fourth day’s play, Lewis said:

“We saw the Indians take the new ball with spinners. With the brand new ball in hand, there was some skid and turn. We wanted to attack, and Jack (Leach) did that today very nicely. It is something he has done for Somerset. So, it is something he is used to. We are really confident of him doing that job for the team.”

After England set India a mammoth 420 to win the Chennai Test, Leach dealt the hosts a massive blow, beating opener Rohit Sharma’s defence and cleaning him up for 12. The Indian batsman played a defensive stroke to a length ball, which pitched on middle, gripped and turned away to beat the bat and knock back the off stump.

Leach ended day 4 with figures of 1 for 21 from six overs, while James Anderson bowled only two overs.

Though James Anderson hasn’t had much to do in India’s second innings so far, he did pick up two wickets in India’s first innings earlier in the day. Describing James Anderson and Stuart Broad as two outstanding ambassadors of the game, Lewis said about the duo:

“They (James Anderson and Stuart Broad) are an integral part of the dressing room. To have that experience in your attack, as a bowling coach it is unbelievably valuable. They have played in all kinds of conditions and are still very determined to win cricket matches. Not only that, they are also helping in bring through the next group of fast bowlers.”

Lewis, who played one Test, 13 ODIs and two T20Is for England, added that both James Anderson and Broad are exceptional in sharing their knowledge in their own manner. He further narrated:

“Broad is a little more vocal. Jimmy, when he is engrossed in practice, is a little more internal. But, on the field, I can see him communicate all the time with the bowlers. If you watch from the sidelines, you can see how often Jimmy and Broad are talking to the guys – talking to Jofra (Archer), Mark Wood and Sam Curran in previous games. The knowledge they share is invaluable. They are great team men, and, obviously, great players themselves.”

While James Anderson was picked for the first Test against India, Jofra Archer was preferred to Broad.

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