JACK Leach is poised to end a “turbulent 12 months” by playing alongside his friend and former Somerset ‘spin twin’ Dom Bess in England’s first Test against Sri Lanka tomorrow (Thursday, from 4.30am UK time).

Moeen Ali is likely to miss the two-Test series after testing positive for Covid-19, and with spin expected to play a key role in Galle, Leach and Bess look set to link up for England just as they used to do for Somerset.

To say that Taunton favourite Leach has had a tough year is putting it mildly.

He contracted sepsis during England’s tour of New Zealand in November 2019, and was struggling to recover from that when he was hit by the sickness bug that swept through the tourists’ camp in South Africa in January 2020, returning to England as a result.

Leach was called up by England again in the summer, but Bess - who has now left for Yorkshire - was selected ahead of him as first choice spin bowler.

The need to remain within a biosecure environment while on England duty limited Leach’s opportunities to play for Somerset, meaning that he comes into this Sri Lanka series somewhat light on match practice.

Moeen’s unavailability opens the door for him, however, and he has the opportunity to press his case as England’s premier spinner ahead of the tour of India next month.

Somerset head coach Jason Kerr told the County Gazette: “Leachy has had a turbulent 12 months - he was not well when he came back from South Africa, and he did not play much cricket during the summer.

“But he’s been phenomenal in the work he’s put in this winter.

“If he’s selected for the first Test, he’ll have some nerves, having not played much, but he has Test experience now and plenty of First Class cricket behind him.

“Hopefully he will get lots of opportunities this winter.”