Roses match overshadowed by horror leg injury to Dominic Leech


Young Yorkshire bowler lost footing on damp ground while fielding, slid into concrete base of Western Terrace

Lancashire 411 for 2 (Jennings 102, Wells 97*, Davies 84, Bohannon 74*) vs Yorkshire

Nobody who has lived through the past 18 months needs to be reminded that there are times when cricket doesn’t matter a damn. All the same, anyone at Headingley on the third afternoon of this Roses Match were reminded of that truth in the most brutal fashion when Yorkshire’s Dominic Leech suffered a horrific injury to his left leg when he lost his footing on damp ground and slid into the concrete base of the Western Terrace.

Leech had been chasing round the boundary from long-on to deep midwicket to stop a four and had slapped the ball back into play when the accident occurred. The 20-year-old was immediately in agony and was attended by medical staff from both Lancashire and Yorkshire for 15 minutes before being taken from the stadium on a stretcher by paramedics and thence to hospital in the car of Yorkshire’s physio, Kunwar Bansil. At 2.35 the players left the ground to take an early tea and shortly afterwards a statement was issued saying areas of the playing surface had been deemed unfit and unsafe.

As it turned out the umpires, Ian Gould and Nigel Llong, made two inspections before play was eventually abandoned at 4.25. During the time between Leech’s injury and the abandonment questions were raised as to why the umpires had deemed the ground fit for play to start at noon and why an injury beyond the boundary had prompted the decision that the playing area was unfit two hours after precisely the opposite judgement had been reached.

But in a month when simplicity will become a dull watchword this was an example of one of cricket’s unavoidable complexities. Although rain had fallen for twelve hours with barely a break on Monday, Headingley was ready for a twelve o’clock start, only for the seam bowlers’ boots landing on the same spots in their run-ups to bring up water, especially in the area that lies in the shadow of Emerald Stand. To link Leech’s injury to the decision to come off the field is a good illustration of the problems encountered when one applies the principle of “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” too rigidly. Apparently Llong had already raised the issue of the footmarks with his colleague and the situation was being carefully monitored when the injury occurred.

It was also significant that the judgement of the umpires was firmly supported by the both counties’ head coaches. Although delighted that his team are dominating this match – visiting teams do not get to 411 for 2 too frequently at Headingley – Lancashire’s Glen Chapple endorsed Gould and Llong’s judgement.

“We had a lot of rain yesterday and we got here this morning and the ground was still wet,” he said. “The best I can give you is that maybe the heat has brought more moisture up and it’s gone from being just playable to not playable. It’s disappointing for the players and supporters but unfortunately the ground’s not fit at the moment.

“The umpires are doing their job and it’s their call to make. None of us have been down the end that’s causing the problem and I fully trust the umpires to make the right call. The players and our supporters will be very disappointed but the main thing from all this is that you don’t want to see someone injured badly and we all hope he recovers quickly.”

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