Copy of 2023-02-07T155718Z_1396400680_RC2Q3Y9POQEQ_RTRMADP_3_CRICKET-ENGLAND-1675844247107
England's Jack Leach. Image Credit: REUTERS

England spinner Jack Leach said he hoped to put behind him the bad memories of the last time he toured New Zealand when food poisoning left him fearing for his life.

The 31-year-old, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, contracted sepsis on the eve of the second Test in Hamilton in 2019 and ended up seriously ill in hospital.

“It was food poisoning but it turned into sepsis and because the medication I take for Crohn’s weakens my immune system it really attacked my body and I couldn’t fight it off,” Leach told reporters on Tuesday at the same hotel where he fell ill.

“I was on a drip in hospital and was having antibiotics in the other arm. It slowly got worse and worse and went on for some time. Those bad memories came back when I walked into this hotel again today but that’s all in the past and I’m having too much fun to get sick again now!”

Test series

Leach has come a long way since then and took 15 wickets in England’s 3-0 series win in Pakistan in December, taking his total test haul in 2022 to 46 - a figure bettered only by Australia’s Nathan Lyon and Kagiso Rabada of South Africa.

England will play one two-day warm-up game before the two-Test series against New Zealand and Leach said the relaxed approach taken by coach Brendon McCullum is working well.

“Five-day Tests are hard work,” the 31-year-old left-armer told the BBC. “You want to be a mixture of ready to go and fresh. We are trusting ourselves and trusting each other a lot better. Trust goes a long way in terms of putting in good performances. That relaxed feeling is definitely paying off.

“We’re working smarter as a group and it’s about peaking for that first Test.” The first Test at Tauranga begins on Feb. 16 with the second match starting in Wellington on Feb. 23.