England spinner Jack Leach was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease aged 14 and it had a major impact on his cricket career, particularly at the height of the coronavirus pandemic
With England on the verge of defeat in the third Ashes Test, Stokes hit an epic 135 to not win his side and keep the series alive. Leach was on the other end as Stokes hit the winning runs after sharing a 73-run partnership with the all-rounder in which he scored a hit that didn’t miss out.
The innings cemented Leach’s status in cricket folklore, but things went almost dangerously wrong immediately after that series. While England were touring New Zealand the following month, Leach contracted food poisoning and was eventually hospitalized with a bout of sepsis.
He suffers from Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease he was first diagnosed at the age of 14, and takes immunosuppressive medication for it. Due to his weakened immune system, a sepsis infection could become life-threatening.
Leach missed the remainder of that series and then did not play at all on the following tour of South Africa after struggling again with illness and being sent home early. the Coronavirus The pandemic then forced the country into lockdown and Leach was told by the government his medication made him “medically vulnerable”.
“I do [feel] a little bit [vulnerable]’ Leach said BBC Radio 5 Live. “The drugs I take weaken my immune system and I had an illness last winter.
“Looking back at the symptoms I had in South Africa, I wonder if it was the coronavirus. Obviously, from the little things I know, that doesn’t mean I can’t get it again.
Albert Perez – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)
“In the beginning I got text messages [of the pandemic] by the government telling me I was in the vulnerable category, which was difficult to deal with because I felt healthy. I didn’t feel sick or anything. That was a bit scary.”
Leach spoke candidly about his experience of Crohn’s life in a video produced by his county of Somerset, admitting there were times during lockdown when he felt he might never play for England again. “I had a type of illness in South Africa that was very similar to Covid and it went through the group,” he said.
“After that, I just couldn’t get better. I was exhausted, I felt tired and my body just couldn’t get any better. You go to training and you’re expected to be at the same level as everyone else and it was just that. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle.
“In those few months there were quite a few low points where I was trying to work towards something and then it didn’t happen. Then we were in lockdown and I felt pretty down at that point because I didn’t know if I was going to get another opportunity to play for England.
“I was trying so hard for so long and then everything just stopped. I didn’t really know what to do or where to put my energy and I found it a really difficult time.
“I certainly feel like my symptoms are worse when I’m more stressed, so it’s a circular thing — if you’re worried about your Crohn’s disease, it’s likely to make your Crohn’s disease worse.”
Reflecting on the impact of the disease on his cricket career, Leach added: “I think mentally it has had a big impact on me and the connection between mental and physical is quite big, just knowing when you’re tired because you’re plays cricket for a living and when you actually start getting some of the symptoms. I’m someone who likes to train and feel prepared, so mentally it was difficult to hold myself back at times.
“Not being able to perform what other teammates can from a training perspective is something I’ve learned over time to deal with and save myself the timeouts in the middle. Of course, there are concerns as to whether that will affect the height you’re available.
“I’ve had times where I’ve lost my place on the team and someone comes in and takes that spot and you don’t know if you’re going to get it back. Those things that you feel like you can’t control are frustrating.”
Leach did not play at all in England’s two home series against the West Indies and Pakistan at the height of the pandemic in 2020 but returned to action in the subcontinent this winter. Playing in all five Tests against Sri Lanka and India, he was England’s leading wicket-taker with 28 scalps at an average of 31.14.
Importantly, however, Leach came through the tours fit and healthy after his struggles in New Zealand and South Africa and worries about Covid. “I think the winter gave me a lot of confidence in my health to get through the tours,” he said.
“I’ve learned over the last few years that when I’m feeling under the extreme stress and pressure of international sport, it’s easy to relapse – that makes it a little bit worse. Getting through the series has given me a lot of confidence that I can play at this level and that my illness won’t hold me back.”
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/cricket/england-jack-leach-crohns-disease-26536867 England Ashes hero Jack Leach's ongoing battle with Crohn's disease