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Jack Leach to fly home as illness continues to blight South Africa tour

The i logo The i 14/01/2020
Jack Leach holding a baseball bat © Provided by The i

Jack Leach’s tour of South Africa is over after England revealed the left-arm spinner is still suffering from the after-effects of sepsis he contracted in New Zealand earlier this winter.

Leach, who was diagnosed with the inflammatory bowel disease Crohn’s at the age of 14, was hospitalised in late November during the second Test against New Zealand in Hamilton. At the time, England said he was suffering from gastroenteritis.

But after announcing he will fly home from South Africa this week and miss the final two Tests, they revealed the illness in New Zealand was more serious. Sepsis, which at its most severe can be life-threatening, is a complication those with Crohn’s can suffer from.

Read more: England surprisingly opt for Wood over Archer (The Telegraph)

Leach’s health was not helped by a second bout of gastroenteritis he picked up during the first Test against South Africa at Centurion last month. That virus overall affected 17 members of the touring party.

An England statement said: “The Somerset left arm spinner, who has struggled to fully recover from sepsis he picked up during the tour of New Zealand in November and was also struck with gastroenteritis and flu ahead of the first Test at Centurion, has not been able to reach the expected levels of fitness to be considered for selection.

“The England medical team, in consultation with Leach, felt to recover fully it would be beneficial for him to return to the United Kingdom. He will leave South Africa on Thursday.”

A famous 2019

© Stu Forster/Getty Images

Leach has become a firm fan favourite following his heroics last summer, when he scored 92 batting as a night-watchman in the Lord’s Test against Ireland and then shared an epic 76-run last-wicket stand with Ben Stokes – of which he contributed one – to help England over the line in a gripping third Ashes Test at Headingley.

Yet it is the 28-year-old’s bowling, which has seen him take 34 wickets at 29 across 10 Tests, England will miss most, especially if he is ruled out of the two-Test tour of Sri Lanka in March.

England coach Chris Silverwood said: “Jack is a great lad to have around the squad and his infectious personality will be missed. However, his focus has to be getting himself better and receiving the optimum levels of recovery and treatment, which is best served back in England. I have no doubt that he will return to full fitness in the medium-term and hopefully in time for our tour of Sri Lanka in March.”

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