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England spinner Leach ruled out of Ashes

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England spinner Jack Leach has been ruled out of the Ashes series against Australia with a stress fracture in his back.

The 31-year-old developed symptoms during the Test victory against Ireland at Lord’s on Saturday, with a scan confirming the injury.

Leach has played in all 13 of England’s Tests since Ben Stokes took over as captain, taking 45 wickets.

A replacement in the squad will be confirmed in due course.

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As well as a significant dent in England’s hopes, it is also a cruel personal blow for Leach who has overcome a series of health and injury issues in his England career.

Leach has Crohn’s disease, a condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system, and in 2019 contracted gastroenteritis, which developed into sepsis, while on tour with England in New Zealand.

He also had to be substituted out of a Test last summer with a concussion.

Eighteen-year-old Rehan Ahmed was the last spinner other than Leach to play a Test for England, when both he and Leach featured in the third Test against Pakistan in December.

Leg-spinner Ahmed took 5-48 on debut.

Surrey’s off-spinning all-rounder Will Jacks played the first two Tests of the same series and took 6-161 in his first appearance.

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The men’s Ashes begins on Friday, 16 June at Edgbaston.

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Could England send an SOS to Moeen?

Analysis by Stephan Shemilt, BBC Sport’s chief cricket writer

Leach spent about half an hour off the field as England completed victory over Ireland on Saturday.

He was in discomfort and at first it was thought to be a possible illness.

When the discomfort continued, he was sent for a scan that revealed the worst possible news.

It is hard to state just how big a blow this is for England. Leach is the only bowler to have played every Test in the Stokes-McCullum era.

His role in the attack is even more important if Stokes is not fit to bowl – the spinner would have to hold an end.

There are no obvious alternatives to Leach – Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson has been discarded, Leicestershire’s Rehan Ahmed is inexperienced and Will Jacks not like-for-like.

Slow left-armer Liam Dawson has not been seen in Test cricket for six years.England might opt for an all-seam attack or, just maybe, send an SOS to Moeen Ali.

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