|Specsavers Test, Lord’s (day two of four)|
|England 85 (Murtagh 5-13, Adair 3-32) & 303-9 (Leach 92, Adair 3-66)|
|Ireland 207 (Balbirnie 55; Curran 3-28, Stone 3-29, Broad 3-52)|
|England lead by 181 runs|
Nightwatchman Jack Leach says he could not believe he had made 92 for England on the second day of the Test against Ireland at Lord’s.
Leach opened the batting on the first evening and narrowly missed out on becoming the first England nightwatchman to score a century.
“I just went out to try to soak up some balls and make it easier for the guys coming in,” the 28-year-old said.
“It probably went a little bit further than I thought it would.”
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Left-hander Leach’s previous highest score this season for Somerset was nine, but he showed patience and good judgement in a second-wicket stand of 145 with Jason Roy, who made 72 on debut.
Without Leach, England may have already been beaten. Bowled out for 85 in the first innings, they lost 7-77 in the second to close on 303-9, 181 ahead.
Leach was part of the collapse on Thursday and admitted that, by that stage, he was thinking of making a century.
“I tried to bring it down to one ball at a time, not thinking too far ahead,” said the Somerset spinner.
“It’s harder to do that in the 90s and I know now that the nervous 90s are definitely a thing. 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.”
In 37C heat, Leach admitted his task was made harder by his spectacles steaming up.
And he revealed that his father, who had missed all four of his previous Test matches because they were overseas and he is afraid of flying, also passed up the chance to be at Lord’s.
“He was going to come today, but saw the weather forecast and said it would be too hot,” said Leach.
“He doesn’t have Sky, so I gave him the key to my house and I think he’s been there watching it the whole time.”
And he joked: “I don’t think it would have been a good place for him to be today. He could have died. I think it was best he stayed at home in the cool.”
With the game in the balance, England could be on the receiving end of one of the greatest upsets in Test history – but Leach insisted the hosts are well placed to avoid defeat.
“Tomorrow is a big day for the whole team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to bowling, because yesterday I didn’t bowl well. I felt nervous.
“This innings has given me confidence – and I’ll take that confidence into my bowling.
“The pressure is on Ireland. It’s the first time they have had the experience of being favourites to win the game. We do believe we’ve got a great chance, but we’ll have to bowl really well.”