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England spinner Jack Leach looks ahead to the pink ball Test and playing in front of 55,000 India fans

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Left-arm spinner Jack Leach has enjoyed the challenge of leading England’s wicket-taking efforts in India but is prepared to take on a new role if the pink ball brings the seamers to the fore in the day-night Test in Ahmedabad

In his latest Sky Sports column, Jack Leach talks playing in front of crowds again, preparations for the day-night Test, and how Ben Stokes resolved England’s wi-fi issues in Ahmedabad…

Going into the series, we understood how tough it would be playing India in India and they put in a very good performance in the second Test. We’ve had chats about it, what we’ve learned, and how we want to go about things moving forward. I think we’ve dealt with that defeat really positively so far.

We’ve had a couple of days in Ahmedabad now and have got a pink-ball game under lights to look forward to, in a new stadium as well, so it’s very exciting. I think 55,000 fans are going to be in the stadium so having experienced 15,000 in Chennai, I can’t wait to hear how loud it is with 55,000!

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It was great to have fans back in Chennai after so long playing without a crowd. You get used to it a little bit but it is always weird when there is no one in the ground.

Experiencing the fans here is great; you come to India and you hear about how much they love their cricket and we really saw that in Chennai – there were only 15,000 in but they know how to make some noise! The Indian supporters really appreciate good cricket as well so even as an opposition player, you can really enjoy playing in front of them.

It feels like a step in the right direction and hopefully we can look forward to a summer playing in front of an English crowd again.

Jack Leach says England will not use the pitch as an excuse after defeat in the second Test (Pic credit: BCCI) Jack Leach says England will not use the pitch as an excuse after defeat in the second Test (Pic credit: BCCI)

I know a lot of people were talking about the pitch in the last game but for us as players, it’s really important that we’re trying to put good performances in whatever pitch we’re playing on; there are definitely no excuses from inside the camp.

We want to be adaptable on all surfaces and I think we’ve shown that, we definitely showed that in spinning conditions in the first three games this winter. We’ve come a long way as a country in terms of our mindset towards playing spin and as a spinner, it is nice to see the ball turning.

I guess the pressure maybe goes up a little bit, but I felt that I really reacted well to that and I’ve enjoyed the challenge. Obviously, Ravichandran Ashwin is a great spinner and has got a lot of experience playing on these surfaces in Test cricket whereas the last game was just my second in India.

So, I think it’s important that I don’t put too much pressure on myself and just enjoy the challenge of being one of the guys who has to take the wickets.

England are relying on Leach for wickets in India and he is enjoying the challenge England are relying on Leach for wickets in India and he is enjoying the challenge

I’m definitely learning as I go along. For people watching, it might seem like it should be straightforward to bowl teams out when the ball is spinning but, trust me, it’s not that simple. We’re playing against great players of spin and you have to find a way. A ball that rips past the edge looks great but sometimes it is the ball that doesn’t turn that is more effective. You have to figure these things out and find a way of taking wickets on any given surface.

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As for the pink ball, it’s been a classic batter and bowler situation the last couple of days with Zak Crawley and Jimmy Anderson: the batter says it’s doing all sorts and the bowler is saying, ‘no, it’s not too bad!’

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We had a good session under lights that started in that twilight period and while I don’t have much experience of playing in these day-night games, I’ve heard that during twilight can be a tough time to bat.

The pink ball has definitely swung a little bit more than the red one out here and, at the moment at least, the pitch looks like it’s got a bit of grass on it. We’re still a few days out from the game so we’ll have to wait and see – they might cut all that grass off and it will look very different.

We want to be adaptable, we feel like we’ve got all bases covered in our squad so I think it’s going to be a fascinating Test match if the ball is moving around, and if so, it might be a slightly different role for me. I’ve definitely thought about that – it’ll be a different challenge and I’ll be ready.

James Anderson admits it was ‘frustrating’ to be rested for England’s second Test defeat against India but says he is ‘feeling fresh’ for Wednesday’s day-night third Test (Pic credit: BCCI)

If it is a truer wicket, then it’ll spin less but if it is like the last Test, then it isn’t going to matter what colour the ball is, it’ll spin! The seam does stay nice and pronounced so there does seem to be a bit on offer for all bowlers.

Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood have now joined up with the squad and it’s been great to have them back. They’ve definitely brought some energy to the group having been back at home and had some time to refresh, mentally more than anything else.

We’ve been in a bubble since January 2 now so it is good when you get new guys coming back. We’ve had a few coaches coming back in as well, to change things up a bit.

Just finally, one issue since moving to Ahmedabad is that the wi-fi isn’t great. I’m not a gamer and it’s fine for WhatsApp and Netflix so that’s me sorted but for the boys are who are into their gaming, they need stronger wi-fi.

Speaking to Stokesy the other day, he seems like a bit of an expert in the old wi-fi and he has used his contacts to get hold of some dongles or something to help them out – they’ve come and tested the internet strength and all sorts!

Thankfully, they have sorted it all now so they can crack on with their Call of Duty. Crisis averted!

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