Leach feels a sense of belonging with England ahead of New Zealand return
Jack Leach feels he belongs in England's Test team as he returns to New Zealand for the first time since he was seriously ill on the 2019 tour.
The bowler, who suffers from Crohn's disease, contracted sepsis four years ago after a bout of food poisoning, and subsequently struggled to hold down a red-ball place.
But back at full fitness, Leach was the third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2022 with 46, behind only Australia's Nathan Lyon and South Africa's Kagiso Rabada.
Ahead of England's two-match series later this month, Leach acknowledged he had fears about returning to New Zealand, but that he feels secure now in his place with Ben Stokes' side, which has helped hugely.
"I was on a drip and had antibiotics in the other arm [last time I was here]," said Leach, who reached 100 Test wickets in Pakistan at the end of the year.
"It slowly got worse and worse. I was really struggling for a bit. It wasn't great, but that's all in the past now. I'm having too much fun to get ill now.
"It can be stress-related, so maybe being a little bit more relaxed is actually helping that side of my health as well. Fingers crossed it stays that way.
"I always felt like cricket was an individual sport within a team, but this feels like such a team.
"It's something I feel very lucky to have experienced because it's a lot more enjoyable.
"It's been probably the most important thing for me, that backing and feeling like I belong.
"I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as I can and do as much as I can for the team."