Trevor Bayliss expects Somerset’s Jack Leach to be England’s main spinner in the First Test against India at Edgbaston at the start of August, despite competition from Dom Bess, Moeen Ali and perhaps even Adil Rashid.
Leach, 27, made his debut in place of the dropped Moeen in Christchurch against New Zealand but was injured before the Pakistan series and has had a disrupted summer, bowling just 74.4 overs.
But Bayliss expects him to slot back in ahead of 20-year-old Bess, who replaced him in the side, not least because he turns the ball away from the right-hander. “I think at this time of their careers that’s probably right,” said Bayliss, who is on a new three-man selection panel with Ed Smith and James Taylor.
“I think Bess has got a lot of his career in front of him. But Leach was the one who was identified a couple of years ago and done well over the last few seasons. I think if he shows any form at all having a left-arm spinner in there would be of benefit.”
Bayliss opened the door to the possibility of a return for Moeen, who had a horrible winter but has regained his confidence. He could come in for the Second Test at Lord’s, which Ben Stokes is set to miss as he appears in court on a charge of affray.
The situation with Rashid — who Bayliss believes is bowling better than ever — is bizarre. He quit red-ball cricket this year, but Bayliss acknowledged there was precedent for a player to be recalled without playing Championship cricket, as Jos Buttler successfully was.
Rashid has since spoken to national selector Smith and written in his Sky Sports column that he would be open to a Test return, but does not want to play Championship cricket for Yorkshire in the Roses match on Sunday. Without playing that game, a recall looks a wildly long shot.