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Leach is pushing Moeen for starting spot, says Atherton

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Adam Ellis

Jack Leach would not be a surprise inclusion as England deliberate their selection for the second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.

In the last match of England’s gruelling five-month tour of Australia and New Zealand, Michael Atherton says Somerset spinner Jack Leach will be a serious consideration for Trevor Bayliss if Ben Stokes looks unable to bowl.

The England all-rounder didn’t bowl a single delivery in the innings and 49 runs defeat at Eden Park owing to a stiff back. And Atherton thinks this may be a chance for Leach to show his worth after starring with the England Lions in the Caribbean.

“The balance of the side is the issue for England,” Atherton told Sky Sports Cricket. “Speaking two days out, I don’t think Stokes will be able to play a full role as an all-rounder – but things may improve.

“If they want to play Mark Wood and Leach, and I think they should, then I think this is an opportunity to look at Jack Leach because England need a spinner going forward,” Atherton said of Leach, who took 18 wickets for 379 runs across three four-day matches against West Indies A.

Atherton added: “It would mean they are going to have a long tail – someone like Chris Woakes will have to bat at seven, which is not ideal although he did bat at six on his debut at the Oval.

“You can’t balance it if Stokes is playing only as a batsman; you’ve either got one batsman too many and one bowler too few or the other way around.”

In tour warm-up matches and competitive Tests this winter England have won just once in 11 attempts – a 192-run victory against a Cricket Australia XI in the second of three warm-up matches before the Ashes.

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