Jack Leach’s second five-wicket haul of the match left England chasing 296 to win the third LV= Insurance Test at Headingley and complete a 3-0 series sweep over New Zealand.
Yet another century stand between Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell, their fourth of the trip, threatened to flip the balance of power decisively in the tourists’ favour on the fourth afternoon but England launched a bold fightback to give themselves a chance.
Having already reeled in stiff targets of 277 at Lord’s and 299 at Trent Bridge, England know they have the firepower to get over the line but their high-stakes approach comes loaded with risk.
That a boy, @jackleach1991 👏
Ten wickets in the match! 🔴
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) June 26, 2022
For Leach, the trip to Leeds has already been a triumph. Best remembered in these parts for his cult classic one not out against Australia in 2019, he now has even better memories to cherish.
He followed first-innings figures of five for 100 with an impressive five for 66, completing a first 10-wicket match of his England career. He mopped up the tail with conviction, removing the last four batters after Matthew Potts had kicked the door ajar.
After starting on time at 11am, England had to wait until 2.25pm for their first breakthrough of what looked at one stage like a day of high frustration.
Potts, impressing anew with every spell, provided it when he rapped New Zealand’s player of the series, Mitchell, on the knee roll to leave him lbw for 56.
Just four balls earlier, the Durham seamer thought he had broken the 113-run partnership with a leg before decision against Blundell that was overturned by DRS.
By putting that disappointment behind him to strike so soon afterwards, the 23-year-old showed the heart and commitment that has typified his early days with the national side.
At the moment he struck, New Zealand were 243 ahead with five wickets in hand – a position of considerable strength. But their hand was weakened by an excellent effort from Leach.
Michael Bracewell holed out to deep midwicket looking to clear the ropes, Tim Southee was cleaned up by an arm ball that skidded through him and Neil Wagner was caught behind in unusual fashion by substitute wicketkeeper Sam Billings.
Billings had been drafted in to replace fellow gloveman Ben Foakes, who tested positive for Covid-19 and is now a major doubt for the India Test at Edgbaston next week. He was unable to gather the edge cleanly but did snap the ball between his legs before pouching it as it dropped down.
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) June 26, 2022
Leach finished the job when he clean bowled number 11 Trent Boult on the charge, setting England up for their third steep chase of the summer.
With Yorkshire offering free tickets for day five, a move inspired by Nottinghamshire’s initiative in the previous match, further entertainment awaits.