Cricket: Health scare forces England spinner Jack Leach home from South African tour

Jack Leach, England test cricketer
Jack Leach, England test cricketer Photo credit: AAP

England spinner Jack Leach has been forced out of the team's tour of South Africa, after battling a series of health issues, including a recent bout of sepsis.

Leach has not been available for selection since arriving on tour and will return home before the last two tests of the series to complete his recovery.

The left-arm tweaker was hospitalised during the previous series in New Zealand, and the England & Wales Cricket Board have revealed that he was suffering from sepsis, an immune response known as 'blood poisoning' that can be life-threatening in its most extreme forms.

Leach, who also suffers from Crohn's Disease, was cleared to make the trip to South Africa, but then suffered bouts of flu and gastroenteritis, which swept the camp last month.

The Board said the 28-year-old "has struggled to fully recover from sepsis he picked up during the tour of New Zealand" and "has not been able to reach the expected levels of fitness to be considered for selection".

Head coach Chris Silverwood wished his player well and hoped to have him back in the fold for a spin-friendly series in Sri Lanka in March.

"It has been an unfortunate time for Jack with illness and since the test series in New Zealand six weeks ago, he hasn't been able to get 100 percent fit," said Silverwood.

"He is a great lad to have around the squad, and his infectious personality and popularity will be missed.

"However, his focus has to be getting himself better, and receiving the optimum levels of recovery and treatment, which is best served back in England, without any distractions.

"I have no doubt that he will return to full fitness in the medium term and hopefully he will recover in time for our tour of Sri Lanka in March."

Leach's Somerset teammate Dom Bess played in the second test win at Cape Town, after originally arriving as cover, and is now in line to retain his place at Port Elizabeth on Thursday night (NZ time).

Leach is the third player to depart a tour disrupted by frequent medical issues, joining Rory Burns (ankle) and James Anderson (rib).

Eleven squad members and six backroom staff fell ill before or during the first test in Centurion.

The series is tied at 1-1.