After being hit with the news that first-choice spinner Jack Leach will miss this summer’s Ashes series due to a back injury, England has turned to all-rounder Moeen Ali to fill the void as they prepare to host Australia.
It doesn’t get bigger in Test cricket than the Ashes series and England will be hoping Moeen can step up on his dramatic return to the longest form of the game after his retirement from the format in September 2021.
England Rocked By Leach Blow
It’s not been the ideal preparation for England going into the first Test against Australia, with Leach ruled out of the series with a stress fracture in his back. Leach featured for England, who are currently priced at +138 in the outright Ashes odds to win the series, in the warm-up victory over Ireland at Lord’s. The 31-year-old suffered symptoms during the Test win against the Irish and now England’s star spinner will play no part against the Baggy Greens this summer.
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Perhaps showing a lack of depth in the spin department, England has turned to Moeen to step up in Leach’s place to feature in the first two Tests of the series against Australia. The 35-year-old called time on his Test career nearly two years ago and has been focused on playing white-ball cricket since.
In what could be seen as a damming assessment of the other spinner options available, it’s a big call from England skipper Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
Moeen Will Bring Experience And Quality
While there will be some critics, regarding the decision to bring Moeen out of Test retirement, the player’s wealth of experience could prove valuable to England in this Ashes series. Not only is Moeen dangerous with the ball in hand, but the all-rounder will add further depth to England’s batting order for the first two Tests.
Moeen has played 64 Tests for his country leading into the series and has taken 195 wickets in that time while contributing 2,914 runs. The Birmingham Phoenix star will be hoping he can break that 3,000 Test run mark in this summer’s series, as England look to win the urn back for the first time since 2015.
Likely to bat in eighth in the order, Moeen is capable of scoring vital runs to build a first-inning total, or even help chase down Australia in a run chase. Scoring 476 over his previous encounters with the Aussies, he has an average of 25.05, while he’s managed to take 20 wickets in 11 Tests against the Baggie Greens.
It’s going to be a big ask but England will be hoping Moeen can slot back seamlessly into the Test set-up and rediscover the form that made him a mainstay in the side for many years. England are the favourites going into the series but the loss of Leach has come as a blow to the hosts ahead of the five-Test series.
All eyes are on how Moeen handles the pressure and if he can leave Test cricket for a second time on a high.