JACK Leach praised captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum for giving the confidence boost he needed to drive England’s victory push on another heady day at Headingley.

The Somerset spinner had not played a Test match on home soil since the summer of 2019 until England’s new leadership team put their faith in him at the start of the New Zealand series.

He then suffered a concussion while fielding on the very first morning at Lord’s, a misfortune that could have cost him his place after Matt Parkinson was drafted in as an emergency replacement for that match.

But Stokes and McCullum have held the line, picking him at Trent Bridge and again at Leeds, trusting him at key moments of the game and insisting on the kind of attacking fields that maximise his wicket-taking potential rather than minimise risk.

The rewards have come rolling in over the past four days, with Leach taking the first 10-wicket match of his Test career with five in each innings.

“I don’t know if I thought something like this was possible or not before, probably not,” Leach said.

“I think the biggest thing is having belief in myself and that’s what Ben and Baz have really helped me with. It looks like that’s starting to pay off.

“I am really enjoying working with Stokesy. I say ‘what about putting mid-on back?’ and he just says no. It’s really attacking and I am enjoying bowling like that as well. I’ve never experienced anything like the atmosphere in that dressing room, this positive way of doing things.

“In the long format of the game, with teams I’ve played in, a lot of the decisions are made around negativity, but this new way is extremely positive. It feels like you’re always pushing for that win.”

Leach already has fond memories of Yorkshire’s home ground, where he made cricket’s most famous one not out alongside Stokes in an Ashes classic three years ago.

And while he will never forget that, a career-best effort in his primary suit would surely trump it – provided the winning runs are chalked off at some point on day five.

“Does this feel better than 2019? At the moment, no. We just need to get the win and then it will be very special,” he said.

“It probably hasn’t sunk in but it feels great. I’ve got two match balls to keep, one for each innings. I’ll give them to my dad, he’s got a collection of all my five-for balls.”