Jack Leach explained the glasses regimen during England’s incredible one-wicket Ashes defeat of Australia that has earned him free spectacles for life.
The England spinner, his side’s last man in, made a vital one not out as Ben Stokes bludgeoned the tourists’ attack at Headingley on Sunday to level the five-Test series at 1-1.
All-rounder Stokes and Leach saw England through to their record run chase of 362-9, with the latter regularly pausing the action to wipe his glasses clear with a cloth.
In the aftermath of one of Test cricket’s greatest comeback wins, Stokes then used social media to call on sponsors Specsavers to give Leach free glasses for life, a request the company quickly agreed to fulfil.
“I just have to make sure they are clean every time they were facing up because I would really regret it if it had been smudged!” Leach told reporters.
“It’s been hot a couple of times. I got out there and they zoomed in on the glasses. Just had to stay calm and do the job at hand. I felt good out there, I was really focused on what I needed to do.”
Although Stokes stole the show, Leach also won countless fans having played a key supporting role to the explosive all-rounder. Told he is now a cult hero, Leach replied: “That’s nice. I don’t know what it is.
“It’s probably because I look like a village cricketer out there in my glasses, the bald head and maybe people think ‘that could be me!’
“All the others look pretty professional. The support’s been amazing, the support today for all of us was incredible. The noise was insane, and I’m just enjoying playing for England.”
Victory for England was far from smooth. Leach survived a misplaced Australian review – Tim Paine wasting his last, which the captain would later need when Stokes was plumb but given not out by umpire Joel Wilson – and should have been run out only for Nathan Lyon to fumble.
“There were two balls left so I thought he [Stokes] might squeeze a single so that I could face one and he’d have the next over,” Leach said of that dramatic moment. “As it turned out, I was on strike for the next over, but I managed to nudge one.
“That was not a nice moment but it’s all good. I don’t want to focus on that moment, I want to focus on running down to Stokes when he hit the winning runs!”
Stokes wrote his name into Ashes folklore with one of Test cricket’s most remarkable knocks, eight sixes in a bravura knock of 135 not out following comparable heroics as England won the Cricket World Cup in similarly incredible circumstances last month.
“He was unbelievable. Walking out with 73 to win, I don’t know if you believe you can do it, you just break it down more than that, a little bit at a time,” Leach added of England’s matchwinner.
“I wanted to do my job, because he was saying he’d face four or five balls an over. I got on with it and it quite quickly seemed to go down and suddenly it’s eight to win, and you’re like ‘oh my god’.
— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) August 25, 2019
“Stokesy straight away is thinking about how he will knock off the runs. He is obviously believing that it’s definitely going to happen. It seemed quite simple. I can’t remember who was bowling, [James] Pattinson I think.
“It was about just getting through to the end of that over, and I managed to do that. It is all a bit of a blur to be honest. I didn’t want to get in Stokesy’s bubble when he was doing really well, hitting those sixes.
“I didn’t want to say too much but I also wanted him to just focus on the next ball, especially when we got close. He said in the changing room that he got nervous when it was down to eight. It seemed so close but the way we were playing it was still quite far away.
“I just wanted him to focus on every ball, and if it was there he would hit it for six.”