The left-arm spinner’s profession has been blighted by sickness, harm, inconsistent choice and even a concussion suffered whereas chasing the ball to the boundary within the first Test of this three-match marketing campaign at Lord’s.
So he was arguably due a second of luck and it arrived a day after his thirty first birthday.
Nicholls, on the stroke of tea, drove exhausting at Leach just for the ball to ricochet off non-striker Daryl Mitchell’s bat and loop gently to Alex Lees at mid-off.
“It was unbelievable, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Leach informed reporters following Thursday’s shut.
“I didn’t even know if that was allowed, but I’ll take any wicket I can get. You get enough that don’t go your way. It was very unlucky for Nicholls but very lucky for me.”
What on earth!? 😅🙈Scorecard/clips: https://t.co/AIVHwaRwQv🏴 #ENGvNZ 🇳🇿 https://t.co/yb41LrnDr9
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) 1655995402000
If that was a bonus wicket, there was no denying the talent with which Leach had struck together with his first ball of the day to have Will Young lbw with a supply that turned and straightened.
Leach, contemplating the distinction between his wickets in a cost-effective return of two for 75 in 30 overs, added: “It’s a silly game isn’t it? That’s what it made me think, it’s a stupid game we play.
“I prefer it as a result of it says two wickets up on the board however I do not just like the dismissal.”
New Zealand batting coach Luke Ronchi accepted Leach’s luck in sporting fashion but suggested Nicholls may have felt differently about an extraordinary end to a grafting innings of 19 off 99 balls.
“I like these type of issues that occur, you possibly can at all times say you have been there on the time and in the event you take these elements out of the sport it might make issues fairly boring,” said Ronchi. “Unfortunately for Henry, it is his demise. We gave him a bit of house afterwards.”
England, already 2-0 up against New Zealand and looking to complete a series clean sweep, took three wickets before lunch after losing the toss in seemingly ideal batting conditions, with Stuart Broad striking twice in the absence of injured spearhead and longtime new-ball partner James Anderson.
But the Black Caps, a year to the day since they defeated India in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton, recovered to 225 for five at stumps thanks to an unbroken stand of 102 between the in-form Mitchell and Tom Blundell.
Their third century stand of the series followed alliances worth 195 at Lord’s and 236 at Trent Bridge.
Mitchell will now be eyeing his third hundred of the campaign when he resumes on his overnight 78 not out.
“I feel mentally he has simply been actually optimistic in what he is attempting to do,” said Ronchi of Mitchell. “He is aware of his recreation-fashion and recreation-plan, he is sticking to it and he trusts it.”