Jack Leach Quits England Tour of South Africa After Sepsis and Sickness Bug
Leach missed the final Test against New Zealand and has not bowled a ball competitively in South Africa after being hit by bouts of flu and gastroenteritis. © Twitter

England spinner Jack Leach was forced to leave the South Africa midway and return home after battling a series of health issues, including a recent bout of sepsis, tour officials have announced.

Leach, the bespectacled player who became the cult hero for his stoic resistance while Ben Stokes produced a match-winning innings in last year’s third Test against Australia, missed the final Test against New Zealand and has not bowled a ball competitively in South Africa after being hit by bouts of flu and gastroenteritis.

In a statement on Tuesday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said that the 28-year-old left-arm spinner, who also suffers from Crohn’s disease, “has struggled to fully recover from sepsis he picked up during the tour of New Zealand”.

He “has not been able to reach the expected levels of fitness to be considered for selection”, it added.

England head coach Chris Silverwood said: “It has been an unfortunate time for Jack with illness and since the Test series in New Zealand six weeks ago he hasn’t been able to get 100 per cent fit.”

Leach’s cover and Somerset team-mate Dom Bess played in the second Test win at Cape Town and is in line to retain his place at Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

Leach is the third player to be ruled out of a tour that has been disrupted by frequent medical bulletins, joining Rory Burns (ankle) and James Anderson (rib) on the sidelines. At least 11 members of the playing squad have fallen ill during the tour, along with about half a dozen backroom staff.

The third Test in the four-match series against South Africa starts at St George’s Park on Thursday. The series is all square at 1-1.