Former England captain Michael Vaughan has advised Australia to follow Ireland's move of attacking left-arm spinner Jack Leach and implement the same in the upcoming Ashes series.
Leach had a good start to England's home summer by picking 3/35 in the first innings of a one-off Test against Ireland at Lord's. But he was taken for 90 runs in the second innings while picking one scalp, as Ireland made 326/9, though England chased down 11 in the first four balls of their second innings.
"My advice to Australia would be to take a breath, and stick to bowling your best ball, which is at the top of off stump, or just outside. Hour after hour. It is almost like T20 cricket: ask England to play a big shot to your best ball. You know they want to score, so stay ultra-negative and disciplined and plug the gaps where they usually get their runs.
My other piece of advice to Australia is to follow Ireland's lead and target Jack Leach. In the second innings at Lord's Ireland took him on, and England looked a bit stretched. I think now that Leach is England's most important player," wrote Vaughan in his column for The Telegraph on Sunday.
"That might sound strange but Leach is so crucial to the make-up of England's attack, while there remains uncertainty about Ben Stokes' knee. Stokes bowled off a couple of paces in the warmup on Saturday morning, then looked in pain when taking a catch, his only contribution in the scorebook," he added.
Vaughan went on to explain how Australia's takedown of Leach will leave England in trouble in terms of their bowling options.
"Nowadays, you get 85 overs in a day's Test cricket (that it should be more is a conversation for another column). So break down those 85 overs, if Leach is taken down by Australia, England will be searching for overs," he said.
If Mark Wood plays, he will not get through more than about 15. Then you have two of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson looking at bowling well over 20 overs each in a day's play. They are outstanding bowlers, but either elderly, injury prone, or both," he added.
Australia haven't won an Ashes series in England since 2001 and will be aiming to do so in 2023 after the last series in 2019 ended in a draw.
After Edgbaston hosts the first Ashes Test from June 16-20, the rest of the games will take place at Lord's (June 28-July 2), Headingley (July 6-10), Old Trafford (July 19-23) and The Oval (July 27-31).
"If Leach can't hold an end, suddenly England will be very stretched, with Joe Root having to chip in with some overs too. I can't help but feel on the sort of pitches they want, they need Stokes bowling as one of four seam options," said Vaughan.
"Australia surely will go after Leach, with four lefties in their top seven, plus Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith both being fine players of spin, and Cameron Green a big hitter," he concluded.
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