London, Jul 26 : England’s Jack Leach said he "can't believe it really" after scoring 92 as a nightwatchman during his side’s ongoing four-day Test against Ireland at Lord’s on Thursday.In the dying stages of the first day, Leach, No.11 in the first innings, was sent in to survive a solitary over, along with regular opener Rory Burns. The 28-year-old, however, hung around to help keep the Irish bowlers at bay the next day, helping himself to 60 off 107 balls by the time lunch was summoned.
"I can't believe it really. I just went out to try to soak up some balls, and make it easier for the guys coming in. It probably went a little bit further than I thought it would." With his highest first-class score of 66, and a best score of 9 for Somerset this season, Leach did not carry glowing batting credentials coming into the game. However, he applied himself in the middle, and helped reverse some of the ignominy suffered by England in the first innings when they were bundled out for 85.
Leach stitched a second-wicket partnership of 145 with Jason Roy as England cleared the first-innings deficit, and came agonisingly close to becoming the first Englishman to score a century as nightwatchman. "It was good fun to be out there," he said. "It was great to bat with Roy. He gave me a lot of confidence and allowed me to just play the way I wanted to play. We had a nice partnership so that was pleasing. I think we've got a good chance in this game – that's what we wanted from this day."
Having batted 162 deliveries, riding his fortune at times, Leach’s patience wore out when he edged a Tim Murtagh delivery to Mark Adair at second slip, an ICC report on Friday said. "It's harder to do that in the 90s, and I know now that the nervous 90s are definitely a thing," he said. "I was having some weird thoughts. I was tired as well – I had cramp – but was still trying to bring it back to the next ball." "I was telling myself not to think about it – which made me think about it. I'll learn from that if I get the chance again," said Leach.
Despite Ireland keeping England on the back foot, Leach said the pressure would be on Ireland now, playing just their third Test. "I think actually there is pressure on Ireland," he said. "It's the first time they've had this experience of probably being favourites to win the game. We don't need to hide away from that. But we do believe we've got a great chance." UNI