Moeen Ali considering England approach to replace Jack Leach for Ashes

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Moeen Ali
Moeen won the Indian Premier League last month with Chennai Super Kings

Moeen Ali is considering an approach from England to come out of Test retirement to play in the Ashes as a replacement for the injured Jack Leach.

BBC Sport understands Moeen, 35, was called by captain Ben Stokes after fellow spinner Leach was ruled out.

Moeen, 35, played 64 Tests before retiring prior to the last Ashes series in Australia in 2021.

If he decides to accept England’s call, he would join the squad for the first Test at Edgbaston on 16 June.

Left-armer Leach, 31, was ruled out of the five-Test series on Sunday after a scan revealed a stress fracture in his back.

It is a significant blow to England. Leach is the only bowler to have played in all 13 Tests since captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took charge last summer.

He looked set to play a significant role in the attack with doubts lingering over all-rounder Stokes’ fitness to bowl.

Without him, England were left with a dearth of options. Leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed played one Test in the winter, but is just 18 years old, while Surrey’s Will Jacks has two caps, but batting is a stronger suit than his off-spin. Leg-spinner Matt Parkinson cannot get in Lancashire’s team and Liam Dawson has been out of Test cricket for six years.

Moeen, though, would be an ideal replacement – there is argument to suggest he is still the premier spinner in England, even if he has not played a red-ball game since his last Test in September 2021.

He has taken 195 Test wickets – only two England spinners have taken more – and his five hundreds would bring runs to the lower-order.

The Warwickshire man has previously rowed back from making a Test return. Last summer he said he was “unretired”, only to opt against a place on the tour of Pakistan in December.

Moeen remains part of the England limited-overs set-up and was in the team that won the T20 World Cup in November.

Even if Moeen does decide to join the squad, one option for England in the first Test could be to field an all-pace attack, supplemented by Joe Root’s part-time off-spin.

However, England have not won an Ashes Test without a frontline spinner in their side since 2001.

“The like for like is Liam Dawson,” former England captain Alistair Cook told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I would probably go for him as he does the same as Jack Leach, left arm, and that breeds familiarity. But I think England will take the more aggressive option, they’re trying to get Moeen.

“It’s a tough one for Mo, because he won’t want to let Ben Stokes down, but it’s a big ask. When you know what Test cricket, and certainly an Ashes series, can do to you mentally, you’ve got to really want to be out there in the battle.

“In the last few years he’s felt like he’s done his time in Test cricket so it’s whether a bit of time away has changed that.”

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