The 30-year-old from Somerset had another miserable day at the SCG, watching on as Australia’s batters milked runs off his bowling with ease en route to 8-416 declared.
Leach finished with figures of 0-89 from 24 overs and now has a series return of 2-237 at 118.50.
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He was dropped for the second Test when England made the bizarre decision to employ an all-pace attack and, since being recalled for the Melbourne fixture, the hosts have continued to plunder his bowling.
Lawrence Booth of The Daily Mail was scathing in his assessment of Leach in Sydney.
“Perhaps the most dispiriting sight was that of Leach wheeling away in vain,” Booth wrote.
“A player apparently considered England’s best spinner had needed until the fourth Test of the Ashes to bowl his first maiden, and bowled an unthreatening one-day line outside the left-handers’ leg stump.”
Leach’s alarming showing in this Ashes series has been accentuated by the effectiveness of Nathan Lyon.
Australia’s most successful off-spinner in Test history has figures of 12-261 at 21.75 in this series.
Astoundingly, Lyon has bowled 37 maidens and Leach just two.
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“The concerns over Leach that crept in after his difficulties at the Gabba remain,” wrote Amy Lofthouse of the BBC.
“(England captain Joe) Root set defensive fielders for him almost immediately and the spinner struggled for consistency, allowing Australia to work easy singles and disrupt him further.
“He was unlucky not to dismiss (Usman) Khawaja, with Root dropping the ball after it took a deflection off wicketkeeper (Jos) Buttler‘s hip, but Leach still lacks the control that England look for in a spinner.”
Former England captain Michael Atherton lamented another day in which the tourists had scarce encouraging moments.
He pointed to veteran quick Stuart Broad‘s 5-101 as a rare highlight of the day.
“Broad apart, there was little to cheer, although a reprieve for Zak Crawley in the dying moments of the day offered a crumb to cling to,” Atherton wrote in The Times.
“Nathan Lyon had launched Broad for a shuddering six to bring a declaration with five overs of the day remaining, a blow that took Broad’s analysis beyond three figures. Crawley, still to score, edged Mitchell Starc in the penultimate over to slip, only to be reprieved when Starc was revealed to have overstepped the front line.
“That dramatic end was in contrast to the start of the day when there was a perplexing willingness to allow the game to drift – a repeated failing in this series – during a wicketless first session that undid much of the promise of the evening before. There was a dropped catch, from which Khawaja was the beneficiary when he had scored 28, and a staleness as the day wore on, with England short of a fifth bowler, due to an injury to Ben Stokes.”
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England could sense promise when first drop Marnus Labuschagne was dismissed for 28 late on the first day, Australia falling to 3-117.
But Khawaja and former captain Steve Smith then combined for a fourth-wicket partnership of 115, before the bowlers chipped in with considerable runs of their own, ensuring the total surged past 350 and then 400.
“There was an opportunity for England to bowl Australia out for 300-odd and then get a first-innings lead,” said former England paceman Steven Finn on a BBC podcast.
“You can sense the frustration England allowed Australia from being six down to getting a good score on the board.”
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