Somerset spinner Jack Leach says he is now a stronger bowler after going through the “dark time” of remodelling his bowling action.
Leach was not considered for England’s tour of India last year after failing tests at England’s performance centre.
The 26-year-old underwent remedial work on his body position and took 51 wickets in 2017’s County Championship.
“I’m just glad I’ve managed to put in the hard work to get it right,” the left-arm spinner told BBC Sport.
“As soon as I knew I needed it, it was about finding a way to get it right – to do the technical work and then move forward.”
Taunton-born Leach has taken 116 wickets in Somerset’s last two County Championship seasons – the most of any Division One spinner – but his success has not come easily.
“It’s really tough. You get told by coaches to do what comes naturally to you, but with something like that you can’t do what’s natural – you have to work out something else and make that natural,” he said.
“I feel like I’m a stronger bowler with a better action now, so it was just about taking my arm on a cleaner pathway, which actually makes it more fluid.”
Despite the technical changes, brought about to comply with a rule limiting the straightening of the elbow to 15 degrees, Leach says the hardest part was the mental side.
“I feel great 12 months on, but it was a really dark time for me,” he added.
“It’s been a big challenge for me. I worked closely with Chris Marshall [England’s sports psychologist] just on the mental side of things.
“You’re worried about what people are going to say about you – whether you’re going to be seen as a cheat.”
On England stand-by?
Leach departed for Australia with the England Lions squad on Tuesday, along with fellow Somerset spinner Dom Bess.
As well as playing a three-day match against a Queensland XI and T20 matches against Perth Scorchers, the Lions will provide injury back-up for England’s Ashes tour.
Although an injury to either Moeen Ali or Mason Crane could mean an England debut against Australia for Leach, he is remaining focused on the task at hand.
“I try not to think about it too much,” he said. “All I’m thinking about is going away with the Lions and impressing.
“We’re all going to be close to what’s going on – we’re out in Brisbane when England are, and we’re going to be bowling at them for a couple of days.
“I feel in a lot better place now if the call came compared to this time last year.”