England's Jack Leach says he had coronavirus-like symptoms in South Africa this winter
"I'm thinking about trying to bring my best to the England set-up; I feel like I haven't done that yet. I overthink at times. I try to control things so much"
Last Updated: 28/06/20 11:53am
Jack Leach says England have yet to see the best of him, adding he's fit and "ready to go" for the three-Test series against West Indies following a frustrating winter of illness and injury.
Leach, who was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the age of 14, leaving him with a weak immune system, suffered with food poisoning that cut short his tour of New Zealand, while he talks of having COVID-19-like symptoms when illness ruled him out of playing in South Africa.
Having battled through those bouts of illness, Leach is confident he is now in good health and can be considered for selection this summer - even with the bio-secure, social-distancing conditions cricket will be played in.
"The medication I'm on puts me at a little bit of a higher risk," Leach admitted, referring to his Crohn's disease medication. "But what I came through over the winter, it suggests that I can fight things off quite well and that I'm probably not as high a risk as others on that medication.
"Also, the fact that my Crohn's is under control is great for me. I'm lucky that's the case. The fact I'm fit and reasonably healthy, apart from that, gives me a good chance.
"I've been doing everything I need to do, sticking by the rules. But I'm not too nervous about if I've got it [COVID-19].
"I do kind of wonder whether I had it in South Africa. If you had the symptoms I had in South Africa now, you would think 'this is definitely coronavirus'.
"I picked up this cough, temperature and just felt shattered. And having been through what I'd been through in New Zealand - with the medication I was on - I struggled to fight that off. I just remember feeling like my energy levels were so low.
"I don't feel sorry for myself. There's nothing I can really do about what happened in the winter. It's quite unfortunate how it happened. It's the way it is.
"I now feel healthy and fit and I just want to stay that way as much as possible. Feeling quite safe here, in a bio-secure environment, is quite good for that."
Leach has played 10 Tests for England, taking a more than respectable 34 wickets at an average of 29.02, but the left-arm spinner is currently remembered more for two innings with the bat last summer.
Leach, opening the batting as a nightwatchman, scored a sublime 92 at Lord's against Ireland, though it is his one not out, off 17 balls, in the Ashes Test at Headingley that is perhaps most fondly remembered, as Ben Stokes took England to a famous victory at the other end.
The 29-year-old is confident he can start making more notable contributions with the ball, saying he now has a better understanding of what he needed to correct, mentally, and that he's "excited about what's to come".
"I'm thinking about trying to bring my best to the England set-up; I feel like I haven't done that yet," Leach said.
"It takes a bit of working out mentally how you want to go about things. You come from county cricket where you feel like you massively belong - by performing over and over - but for England I feel like I haven't done that yet.
"I think I have a better understanding now of why that is; a lot of it is mental. I overthink at times. I try to control things so much.
"I think that the more I think about something, the more I'll be able to control it when, actually, sometimes when you're in 'automatic', you do things a lot better. It's about unlocking that as much as possible.
"We judge ourselves on numbers, but sometimes it's just about how the ball feels coming out. I feel like I can do that side of things a little bit better. That's what I've been working hard on with several people. I'm excited about what's to come.
"There's everything to play for; there's 30 guys competing for spots. There's lots of competition throughout the squad and spin is no different.
"It's about us all working together to be at our best and then it is up to the selectors who takes that spot."