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'Village cricketer' Leach reflects on epic 17-ball supporting act
Ashes 2019

'Village cricketer' Leach reflects on epic 17-ball supporting act

Jack Leach believes his newfound fame and accidental hero status is down to his appearance resembling that of a "village cricketer" after his resolute supporting role batting at the No.11 position helped Ben Stokes clinch one of the most remarkable Test victories.

England were deep in the doldrums at 286-9, requiring an improbable task of 73 runs for a win when Leach walked out to bat on the fourth day of the Headingley Test.

The 28-year-old left-arm spinner put on a strong display of defensive strokes which allowed Stokes to launch expansive drives and immaculate slogs on the other end as his unbeaten 135 saw England achieve a series-leveling win.

Leach, who recently top-scored for England in their clash against Ireland coming in to bat as a nightwatchman, consumed 17 deliveries for his solitary run that eventually helped the hosts tie the scores before Stokes hit the winning runs.

He was almost dismissed in bizarre fashion when England were within touching distance of the target as Leach hurried down the pitch but had to turn back only to witness Nathan Lyon fumble the ball that could have gotten him run out.

The sight of Leach cleaning his spectacles with resolve amidst the tense situation of the match has become an iconic image adored by the fans.

"It's nice to have that, it's probably because I look like a village cricketer out there, in my glasses and with the bald head," said Leach.

"Maybe people think 'that could be me' because all the others look pretty professional."

'I just had to stay calm and do the job'

Leach modestly played down the level of attention he had been receiving since the win and relished the opportunity to be part of the national side.

"I'm just enjoying playing for England."

Reflecting on his glasses-cleaning routine, Leach clarified it was just a practice to remove condensation which could blur his vision.

"I just had to make sure they were clean every time I was facing up."

"I would really regret it if they had been smudged and I'd got out, then the cameras zoom in on the glasses and they say 'he didn't clean his glasses'. I just had to stay calm and do the job at hand."

Leach claimed to have remained motivated by Stokes' heroics in the dramatic World Cup final in the face of his side's precarious position in the Headingley Test.

"I was watching the World Cup final as a fan and that showed that anything is possible," he said.

"Ben Stokes was at the centre of that as well. Maybe Ben Stokes has to be at the centre of all things that are possible. He was just unbelievable."