SOMERSET spinner Jack Leach is aiming to "get as much cricket in as possible", after his second-innings five-fer propelled England to a 1-0 series lead in Sri Lanka.

Playing in his first Test since November 2019, Leach claimed 5-122 (to give him match figures of 6-177) as the hosts were dismissed for 359 in their second innings.

With ex-Somerset spin bowler Dom Bess contributing 3-100 (for match figures of 8-130), England needed only 74 to win - and Jonny Bairstow (35*) and Dan Lawrence (21*) delivered a seven-wicket victory, having rescued their side from 14-3.

Leach’s match-winning role comes at the end of a incredibly difficult 14-month period for him.

The 29-year-old, who has Crohn's disease, contracted sepsis on England's tour of New Zealand in November 2019, and he was forced to fly home from South Africa in January 2020 having been unable to regain fitness, while also suffering from gastroenteritis and flu.

Bess stepped in to cover, and was England’s first choice spinner last summer, meaning that Leach was limited to a watching brief from inside the bio-secure bubble.

Two Bob Willis Trophy appearances for Somerset were Leach’s only matches in 2020 - a far cry from his heroics in England's astonishing Ashes win at Headingley in August 2019, and the cult hero status that followed.

But now Jack is back, the Taunton favourite dismissing Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dilruwan Perera and Angelo Mathews to leave an England victory all but certain.

Having sent down 41.5 overs in sweltering conditions, Leach said: "It's been hard on the body. Right now I feel pretty tired and sore.

"One thing I've learned is you never know what is around the corner, so I'm just trying to enjoy each day and see what happens.

"It's nice to get five [wickets] and I feel I've got better as the game has gone on, which is a good sign.

"I try and use those lows to propel me on to highs, and it puts things into perspective.

"I had sepsis in New Zealand, so that wasn't a great time for me, and then went to South Africa and picked up illness there.

"It was a tough time so it's been about building back up slowly and I think I am over that now.

"Hopefully now is about getting as much cricket in as possible.

"If I'm healthy and fit and able to play, that's the main thing, because I don't take that for granted."