IT wasn’t quite Shane Warne but Jack Leach showed he is far from done in Test cricket.
The slow-left armer didn’t rip through the West Indies like the late Australian legend might have done, but boy did he give it a good go.
Jack Leach of England celebrates with Dan Lawrence after dismissing John Campbell of the West Indies during day fiveCredit: Getty
Windies’ opener John Campbell hits out off Jack Leach and is caught by Craig OvertonCredit: Reuters
The Windies were set 286 to win off 71 overs and in the end they held on for a comfortable draw.
But when Leach picked up three quick wickets to make it 67-4 with plenty of time left, a first ever win in Antigua was in sight.
And if captain Joe Root, who earlier bagged his 24th Test century, used the final review when Leach wrapped Jason Holder’s pads with 22 overs remaining, it may just have transpired.
There is clearly mistrust somewhere in the England set-up towards Leach.
Discarded for nine months after claiming 28 wickets in six Tests in Sri Lanka and India last spring, the 30-year-old was then dumped for nine months.
He then barely bowled a ball before being thrown into the Ashes cauldron, where he was brutally targeted in the 4-0 hammering.
But not many do perseverance better than Leach, who bowled like a dream in a marathon spell on this final day to end with figures of 30.1-14-57-3
England’s ‘red-ball reset’ could have gone a lot worse and they were the side pushing here, but it’s now just one win in 15.
Four days of drab cricket on a pudding of a pitch finally spiced up yesterday, yet it was always going to be a tall order for England to take 10 wickets when news broke that crocked quick Mark Wood could not bowl.
Chris Woakes and Craig Overton were as harmless as they were in the first innings, leaving plenty of selection questions heading into the Barbados Test on Wednesday.
And it will be intriguing to see how the flogged Ben Stokes recovers having bowled 41 overs – way more than England would have liked.
Starting the day on 217-1, Zak Crawley and Root brought up their 200 partnership before Crawley was yorked by Holder for 121.
Quick runs were the order of the morning, with Dan Lawrence leading the charge with 37 off 35 balls.
Root eased his way to a 24th ton – moving ahead of Kevin Pietersen and behind only Sir Alastair’s Cook’s 33 in England’s all-time rankings.
It’s surely a case of when not if the 31-year-old tops the chart but this latest ton was his 13th as skipper, taking him above Cook to head that list.
Root was bowled around his legs by Joseph for 109, while Ben Stokes miscued one high into the sky on 13 before Ben Foakes dragged onto his own stumps.
The declaration came 20 minutes before lunch on 349-6, setting West Indies 286.
Every chance needed to be snaffled, so Crawley dropping opener Campbell on 1 off Leach, scrambling back from slip and getting his hands on a top-edged sweep, hardly set the tone.
The game quickly boiled down to whether Stokes and Leach could be the heroes.
The saviours at Headingley against Australia in 2019 with the bat, could they now bowl England to victory with the ball?
Stokes was not seen until the 24th over but struck with his seventh ball, wrapping Brathwaite on the pad with one that kept low.
And things really started to heat up when Leach made it 59-2 in the next over when carefree Campbell tried to launch it over mid-on but spooned a rank shot straight to Overton.
Leach had another on the brink of tea when Crawley made up for earlier by taking a sharp catch down low to his right to dismiss Shamarh Brooks.
It was all about survival now for the West Indies, making Blackwood’s horrible swipe just after the break unforgivable.
A wild hoick to Leach, he was out LBW to leave them 67-4 and entering survival mode to claim a draw as Nkrumah Bonner and Jason Holder held firm until the teams shook hands with five balls remaining.