Moin could only be the 15th player in the tests to score over 3,000 runs and take over 200 wickets. Credit: AFP/GLYN KIRK
Moin Ali is set to make a sensational return to the English test team for the first ash test at Edgbaston after taking Ben Stokes' distress call to cancel his retirement.
England have approached Moine to return to Testing this week after Jack Leach, their top spinner, was ruled out for the summer with a stress fracture in his back that was diagnosed following the victory over Ireland.
Moin, who turned 36 during the first Test at Edgbaston, asked for time to consider a decision, but after talks with Stokes, Brandon McCallum and Rob Key, he called off his departure.
He replaces Leach in a 16-man lineup for the first two matches of the series. Moen hasn't been a regular test taker since being cut from the first Ashes test in 2019.
After playing four Tests in 2021, he retired from the format shortly before the final series of Ashes. Last year, he flirted with canceling his retirement for a tour of Pakistan before deciding a comeback wasn't for him.
This time, the difference seems to be that the matches are played at home, especially since the first match is being played in his hometown of Birmingham.
“Earlier this week we contacted Mo about returning to Test cricket,” said Key, England's managing director. “I had a couple of days to think and Mo is very excited to be joining the team and playing Test cricket again. His vast experience and all-round ability will benefit our Ashes campaign.”
Batting can also help lengthen lower order England. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Cooldridge
It looks like Moen will go straight to the England XI at Edgbaston, although they have the option of playing an extra player if conditions warrant. There will be some concern about the index finger on Moen's right hand, which often split when he had a spike in his bowling load.
It's not clear if Moin will return for this episode only or if it could expand to tour India in the new year when they will surely appreciate his experience.
Moin has already said that he motivated him with a rare statistical double that is painfully within his grasp: 3,000 test runs (he has 2,914) and 200 wickets (he has 195). Only 14 players in the history of the game have done so, but Moin and Stokes (194 wickets) were able to pass it this summer.
Moin has not played first-class cricket since 2021 and admitted that at that time, earlier this year he felt that his bowling game had declined since his retirement as an England red-baller because he no longer bowled the same number of overs.
While Moen has had a poor record against Australia, averaging 25 at bat and close to 65 with ball, England are hoping the inspirational influence from McCallum and Stokes' management will help reverse the trend.
With 195 wickets out of 64 tests, Moen was by some distance the most accomplished option available for England.
Rehan Ahmed was Lich's designated concussion and Covid-19 assistant at the start of the summer, but Ashes is not thought to be the scene for an 18-year-old with little first-class cricket at this stage. behind him to play as the lead spinner for the first time.
Ahmed made a brilliant debut at the tests in Karachi in December, but already as a second player. Will Jax or Liam Dawson seem like the most likely next calls if Moine succumbs to injury at any point in the series.
Jack's advantage is that he intercepts the ball from four of the top seven offensive left-handers in Australia, and Dawson is a seasoned professional who is considered a reliable pair of hands.
Moin is expected to throw many overs, as Leach did under Stokes' captaincy. Stokes' own fitness is a concern as he hopes to fulfill the promised bowling workload.
Stokes suffers from tendonitis in his left knee, which has kept him out of bowling lately. England are currently enjoying a week off while Australia play in the final of the World Testing Championship and will convene in Birmingham on Monday evening. The first test will begin next Friday, and the Ashes will be completed by July 31st.