Moeen Ali dropped for Lord’s Test
England have dropped Moeen Ali from their 12-man squad for the second Ashes Test. Somerset’s left-arm spinner Jack Leach has been called up as a replacement.
The 32-year old off-spinner has paid the price for consistent failures with the bat – including four ducks in his last eight Test innings, and a poor showing with the ball at Edgbaston. On a turning pitch, he was only able to produce figures of one for 42 (first innings) and two for 130 (second) as Australia romped to a 251-run win to go 1-0 up in the five-match series.
To say it was coming would be something of an understatement. Despite 83 wickets since the start of 2017, a dip in form during the World Cup saw him lose his spot in the XI and also the confidence of the England coaches and selectors. His replacement, Leach, is seen as a more reliable spinner who can at least tie down an end if things are not going the team’s way. Leach was also man of the match when England last played at Lord’s, against Ireland a couple of weeks ago, albeit for his batting with 92 as nightwatchman. The inclusion of Leach may also help combat Steve Smith, twin-centurion in the opening Test, who is susceptible to finger spin turning away from him.
As expected, James Anderson misses out with a recurrence of his right calf injury – sustained after four overs of bowling on the opening morning of the fourth Test – with Jofra Archer in line for his Test debut. Olly Stone, who was also part of the squad for the first Test, misses out through a lower back injury.
It seems unlikely England will go without a spinner against Australia on a dry Lord’s surface, which means the last call to mull over would be whether Joe Denly makes way for Sam Curran. Not only does Curran offer a left-arm seam option, but he is capable of handy runs with the bat and there is a sense the 21-year-old could do no worse than the 18 and 11 Denly managed in the last match.
That, though, maybe require a bit too much rejigging of the batting order. Nevertheless, it is food for thought for England captain Joe Root and the rest of the selection panel.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes