Cricket 2024: Graeme Swann claims England would have won Ashes series with Jack Leach, Nathan Lyon injury, Australia vs England

Of all the hypothetical takes in the history of cricket, Graeme Swann contesting England would have won the Ashes if Jack Leach had played might be up there with the most outrageous.

If it wasn’t bad enough that England were claiming moral wins after failing to win back the Ashes on home soil, now they seem to be clutching at straws claiming hypothetical victories, but with some glaring oversights if you want to go down that road.

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The former England spinner believes England would have won the Ashes had Jack Leach not been ruled out of the series due to injury and replaced by Moeen Ali, who had to come out of retirement.

While a fit Leach may have helped England win one or even both of the first two Tests that were nail-biters, surely Australia would have fancied their chances more in one or two of the last three Tests had Nathan Lyon not gone down injured.

Swann told The Daily Mail that England would have won the first Test match, at Edgbaston, and consequently the Ashes, had Leach played.

“I believe we would have won the Ashes last year had Jack been playing in those first two Tests,” Swann told The Daily Mail.

“Moeen Ali came in and did as good a job as he could but he’d had no red-ball cricket under his belt and a damaged finger.

“There’s no way we wouldn’t have bowled them out at Edgbaston had Jack been playing. I can’t wait to see him back.”

Australia won the first Test of the 2023 Ashes at Edgbaston by two wickets amid a thrilling climax on day five, chasing 281 for victory.

Australia lost their eighth wicket at the score of 227, with skipper Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon at the crease and the target more than 50 runs away, but England couldn’t get the job done.

Moeen’s finger injury meant he wasn’t as effective, with Joe Root having to take over the bulk of the spinning duties on day five.

Eventually, Cummins and Lyon took Australia over the line without losing another wicket and Australia won the second Test to go 2-0 up before drawing the series 2-2 and retaining the Ashes.

Australia were outplayed in the final three Tests, but were missing their number one spinner Lyon, which changed the face of their bowling attack as well.

Hypotheticals in sport are generally a waste of time because had England won that first Test and the series been tied at 1-1 after two matches for instance, Australia would have approached the last three games with far more of an attacking mindset.

Given they were 2-0 up going into the last three, Australia knew they only needed to draw the series to retain the Ashes, which changed their approach without Lyon in their attack.

For the record history shows England drew the series 2-2 and Australia retained the Ashes and Swann’s hypothetical debate is as pointless as it is dubious.

Originally published as And what about Lyon? England great claims Poms ‘would’ve won Ashes’ if spinner was fit

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