The left-arm spinner’s career has been plagued by illness, injury, inconsistent selection and chaos as he chases the ball to the boundary in the first Test of his three-match campaign at Lord’s.
So it was arguably due to a moment of good fortune and it came a day after his 31st birthday.
Nichols, on a tea stroke, ran hard on the leech just so the ball could recoup on non-striker Daryl Mitchell’s bat and loop lightly towards Alex Lees in mid-off.
“It was incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Leach told reporters after Thursday’s shutdown.
“I didn’t even know if it was allowed, but I’ll take whatever wicket I can. You can get so many wickets that don’t go your way. It was very unfortunate for Nichols but very much for me. Was lucky. ”
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If it was a bonus wicket, there is no denying the skill with which Leach lbw out Will Young on his first ball of the day and turned the delivery straight.
Leach, considering the difference between his wickets in economic return, giving up 75 runs in 30 overs, added: “It’s a stupid game, isn’t it? It makes me think, it’s a stupid game we play.
“I like it because he takes two wickets on the board but I don’t like getting out.”
New Zealand batting coach Luke Ronchi acknowledged Leach’s fortunes in sports fashion but suggested that Nichols may have felt differently about the extraordinary end of a 19-run innings off 99 balls.
“I like that kind of thing, you can always say you were there at the time and it can make things very boring if you take those factors out of the game,” Ronchi said. “Unfortunately for Henry, it’s his death. We gave him some space later.”
England are already 2-0 up against New Zealand and looking to complete a clean sweep of the series, taking three wickets before lunch after losing the toss in ideal batting conditions, with Stuart Broad striking twice in the absence of an injured spear and a long-time newcomer. Partner James Anderson on the ball.
But a year after the Black Caps beat India in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton, a 102-run partnership between Mitchell and Tom Blundell, who was in form, led to 225 for five on stumps.
The third-century stand of their series followed the price combination of 195 at Lord’s and 236 at Trent Bridge.
Mitchell’s eye will now be on his third century of the campaign when he resumes his Overnight 78 not out.
“I think mentally he’s been really positive about what he’s trying to do,” said Mitchell’s Ronchi. “He knows his game-style and game-plan, he sticks to it and he trusts it.”