Leach debuts, Wood returns as New Zealand win toss and bowl | Cricket Bats | England

New Zealand win the toss and bowl against England
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Jack Leach, the Somerset left-arm spinner, has been presented with his cap by Graeme Swann and will make his Test debut at Christchurch, as England ring the changes in the wake of their crushing innings defeat in last week’s first Test against New Zealand at Auckland.

He will have to wait for his opportunity to bowl, however, as Kane Williamson won the toss and chose to bowl first. In an otherwise unchanged side, Todd Astle, the legspinner, misses out after picking up a side strain, with Ish Sodhi coming into the team in his place.

“We need to make a big first-innings score,” said Joe Root, England’s captain. He’s not wrong there, after England’s humiliating 58-all-out scoreline on the first morning at Auckland.

Mark Wood also returns to the fray, in place of Craig Overton, for his first Test appearance since South Africa’s tour of England in 2017, as England opt for a pace injection, having struggled all winter to match the out-and-out speed of, first Australia’s quicks during the Ashes, and latterly Neil Wagner in the second innings at Auckland.

The match at Hagley Oval takes place in the wake of the seismic upheaval on the other side of the Tasman Sea, with Australia’s Test team in turmoil and the careers of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft in tatters.

But the story of Leach’s debut offers a small reminder of the opportunity in sport for a second chance, given that his own career was in ruins barely a year ago, when his bowling action was found to be illegal during routine tests at the ECB High Performance Centre at Loughborough.

Leach, however, went away and remodelled his apparent kink. By the end of the 2017 season, he was back in the wickets, and a successful winter with the England Lions in Australia and, not least, West Indies during an otherwise disappointing trip, has pushed him right to the top of the pecking order.

Leach comes into the side in place of Moeen Ali, who celebrated his 50th cap at Auckland last week but once again emerged from the game with little to cheer, as his difficult winter continues. James Vince, another man who failed to impress in the Ashes – one notable innings at Brisbane aside – returns to No.3 to shore up the hole left in England’s batting by Moeen’s absence.

New Zealand 1 Jeet Raval, 2 Tom Latham, 3 Kane Williamson (cap), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Henry Nicholls, 6 BJ Watling (wk), 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Ish Sodhi, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult

England 1 Alastair Cook, 2 Mark Stoneman, 3 James Vince, 4 Joe Root, 5 Dawid Malan, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 8 Jack Leach, 9 Mark Wood, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson


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