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Moeen Ali considering England approach to replace Jack Leach for Ashes

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England cricket team

Moeen Ali, who recently won the Indian Premier League with the Chennai Super Kings, is currently contemplating an offer from the England cricket team. The proposal involves him coming out of retirement to play in the Ashes as a substitute for the injured Jack Leach.

According to Sport News Center, Moeen, aged 35, received a call from captain Ben Stokes after fellow spinner Leach was declared unfit. Having retired before the previous Ashes series in Australia in 2021, Moeen played 64 Tests for England.

If he decides to accept England’s request, Moeen will join the squad in time for the first Test at Edgbaston on June 16. The absence of left-arm spinner Leach, aged 31, due to a stress fracture in his back, deals a significant blow to England’s prospects. Leach has been the only bowler to feature in all 13 Tests since captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum assumed charge last summer. His role in the bowling attack was expected to be crucial, especially considering doubts about the fitness of all-rounder Stokes to bowl.

Without Leach, England finds themselves with limited options. Leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, only 18 years old, played a solitary Test in the winter. Will Jacks from Surrey has two caps, but his batting prowess outweighs his off-spin ability. Matt Parkinson, a leg-spinner, is unable to secure a place in Lancashire’s team, and Liam Dawson has been absent from Test cricket for six years.

Moeen, on the other hand, would be an excellent replacement. There is a strong argument that he remains England’s premier spinner, even though he hasn’t played a red-ball match since September 2021. With 195 Test wickets to his name, Moeen ranks among the top England spinners. Additionally, his five centuries contribute valuable runs to the lower order.

Previously, Moeen had withdrawn from making a Test comeback, suggesting he was “unretired” last summer but eventually declining a place in the tour of Pakistan in December. He still remains a part of England’s limited-overs set-up and played a crucial role in their victory in the T20 World Cup in November.

In the event that Moeen decides to join the squad, one option for England in the first Test could be to rely on an all-pace attack, supplemented by part-time off-spin from Joe Root. However, it’s worth noting that England has not won an Ashes Test without a frontline spinner since 2001.

Former England captain Alastair Cook stated, “The like-for-like replacement for Leach is Liam Dawson. I would probably go for him as he brings familiarity with his left-arm spin. But I think England will opt for the more aggressive option and try to secure Moeen’s services.”

Cook added, “It’s a tough decision for Mo because he wouldn’t want to disappoint Ben Stokes, but it’s a demanding task. Test cricket, particularly an Ashes series, can have a significant impact on one’s mental well-being, so you have to truly desire to be out there in the battle. In recent years, Moeen felt like he had fulfilled his Test cricket obligations, so it remains to be seen if his time away has changed his perspective.”

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