England spinner Jack Leach to miss rest of South Africa tour

14 January 2020, 11:11 | Updated: 14 January 2020, 12:47

England spinner Jack Leach has been ruled out of the rest of their tour of South Africa with illness and will fly home on Thursday.

The 28-year-old left-armer was hit by sepsis during the Test series against New Zealand in November and then fell ill again with gastroenteritis and flu prior to the first Test against the Proteas last month.

Somerset team-mate Dom Bess, who was called up in Leach's place, is expected to continue as England's frontline spinner for the third Test in Port Elizabeth, which begins on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Cricket.

England, who go to Port Elizabeth with the series level at 1-1, are hopeful that Leach will regain match fitness in time to feature in their tour of Sri Lanka in March.

"It has been an unfortunate time for Jack with illness and since the Test series in New Zealand six weeks ago, he hasn't been able to get 100 per cent fit," said England head coach Chris Silverwood.

"This has hampered his preparation in South Africa and, despite his best endeavours, he is not in a position to make himself available for selection for the final two Test matches.

"He is a great lad to have around the squad and his infectious personality and popularity will be missed.

"However, his focus has to be getting himself better and receiving the optimum levels of recovery and treatment, which is best served back in England without any distractions.

"I have no doubt that he will return to full fitness in the medium-term and hopefully he will recover in time for our tour of Sri Lanka."

Leach has won 10 Test caps since his international debut two years ago, taking 34 wickets at an average of 29.02.

However, his exploits with the bat brought him greater fame last summer when he scored 92 against Ireland before sharing a memorable last-wicket partnership of 76 with Ben Stokes to clinch victory in the Headingley Test against Australia.

Watch day one of the third Test between South Africa and England, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 7.30am on Thursday.