England’s Jack Leach feared for his life after contracting sepsis

Jack Leach says he feared for his life after contracting sepsis on England’s tour of New Zealand in November.

The left-arm-spinner – now in Sri Lanka for March’s two-Test series – was left hospitalised, with the medication he takes to treat his Crohn’s disease compromising his immunity to the condition.

Leach, who became ill with gastroenteritis earlier in the tour, told the Press Association: “I didn’t know too much about it at the time, how serious it could be, but I remember feeling very, very ill.

“I remember thinking ‘don’t fall asleep because you might not wake up’. It was that serious in terms of how I was feeling. I was out of it, really.

“My blood pressure was dropping quickly, my heart-rate was 190 and my temperature was 40 degrees. That’s when they called an ambulance and got me to hospital.

“Once I got there, got the antibiotics in my arm and onto a drip, I started to feel better quite quickly but it still took a couple of nights in hospital.

“I was probably still recovering when I flew back from New Zealand. It took longer to get over than I thought.”

Leach was named in England’s squad for the South Africa series in December and January but after becoming infected with the virus that swept through the camp, he did not play in any of the four Tests.

“I picked up a couple of things out there and my body couldn’t cope with it,” said the Somerset bowler.

“Other people got ill but I struggled to fight it off as well as a healthy person. The medication I’m on for Crohn’s weakens my immune system, so it’s a bit more of a struggle.

“You can start to feel fine in general but playing high-level sport is a completely different thing and that’s probably something I didn’t think about enough. As sportsmen we try to push through pain.

These things affect the older generation a bit more but with the medication I’m on, my immune system might be similar to that. We’ve been given packs to use with wipes, hand-sanitiser, we’re drinking bottled water. I just have to do the right things

Jack Leach on the coronavirus outbreak

“You don’t want to be weak mentally or physically but unfortunately that was the situation: I was weak physically. With your health you sometimes have to take a step back.”

Leach is now preparing to make his return in Sri Lanka – a place where he picked up 18 wickets in late 2018 as Joe Root’s side secured a 3-0 Test series whitewash – despite recently picking up a calf niggle.

The 28-year-old, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid picked up 48 of the 60 wickets England claimed in that series – but this time Moeen and Rashid are unavailable, so Leach will be joined by Somerset colleague Dom Bess and Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson.

“I had a little setback with my calf a couple of weeks ago but I’m recovering well,” Leach added. “I’m still maybe a little bit off but we’ve got a bit of time [until the first Test on March 19] so it’s about progressively getting back.

“I look back with fond memories on the last tour. It was nice to be part of that with Mo and Adil – I learned a lot from them.

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