England one-day captain Jos Buttler has predicted Moeen Ali will be a perfect fit when he joins up with Ben Stokes’ Ashes squad ahead of the first Test against Australia at Edgbaston.
Moeen, who has not played an international Test for nearly two years having previously announced his retirement from red-ball cricket, was called in this week as a replacement for first-choice spinner Jack Leach after he was ruled out with a stress fracture to his back.
England did have other options, including 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed, who became England’s youngest Test cricketer when he debuted in Karachi in December, and Surrey’s Will Jacks but none with the experience and credentials of Moeen.
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He has 64 Test caps, 195 wickets and the small matter of five Test centuries. With Jonny Bairstow slotting back into the side at number seven following his return from a broken leg, Moeen is likely to bat at eight and give the home side a seriously dangerous lower order.
Buttler, who featured in England’s unsuccessful bid to regain the Ashes in Australia in 2021-22, said he believed ‘Bazball’ would suit the 35-year-old’s game.
“I’m excited for him,” said Buttler. “I think he will fit in perfectly to what Ben and Brendon (head coach McCullum)have brought to the England team. I’m sure he sees it as a bit of a free hit really.
“He’s coming back into what is an incredibly successful team at the moment, a fantastic culture and an environment that suits him brilliantly. Why not give it a crack?
“We know what a fantastic bowler he’s been over a long period of time. Not just that, the runs he can score as well. I’m quite intrigued to see Mo play Bazball. I think it will suit him nicely.
“Mo’s been a crucial part of England Cricket for a very long time. He’s played a lot of Test Matches, and he’s my right-hand man in the white ball set-up. He’s a crucial guy to have in the dressing room.”
The 35-year-old was invited to join the squad at the start of the week and, after taking a couple of days to ponder his decision, has now agreed to link up with the team.
The Ashes begins at Moeen’s home ground of Edgbaston on July 16, with the all-rounder due to turn 36 on day three.
Rob Key, England’s managing director of men’s cricket, was involved in discussions alongside head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes and explained: “We reached out to Mo early this week about returning to Test cricket. Having had a couple of days to reflect, Mo is excited to join the squad and play Test cricket again.
“His vast experience, along with his all-round ability, will benefit our Ashes campaign. We wish Mo and the rest of the squad well for the Ashes campaign.”