It took a one-word message from England captain Ben Stokes for spin all-rounder Moeen Ali to come out of his Test retirement and join the squad for the Ashes series against Australia beginning at Edgbaston on Friday.
Moeen played the last of his 64 Tests nearly two years ago before quitting the format but left-arm spinner Jack Leach’s unavailability through injury prompted an unlikely comeback for the 35-year-old.
“Ashes?” read the message from Stokes, which Moeen conceded he did not take seriously.
“I hadn’t heard the news on Leachy at the time so I just said ‘LOL’ (laugh out loud), thinking he’s taking the mick,” Moeen told reporters at his home ground in Birmingham.
The all-rounder was aware it would be a stop-gap role for him and said he was not feeling any pressure to perform, especially after a chat with coach Brendon “Baz” McCullum.
“It is a free hit. I’m not playing for my spot.
“There’s no pressure, really. There is pressure of the occasion and the game, but I spoke to Baz and he said he’s not bothered about how I perform, which is quite nice.”
Moeen said he probably would not have considered the offer had it come from any captain other than Stokes.
“His mindset is very different to other captains I’ve had previously.
“I’m not saying they are bad captains, but the way the game is going and the way they have been playing, he is the kind of guy you want to play for.”
Under Stokes and McCullum, England have won 11 of their last 13 Tests displaying a fearless brand of cricket that has rejuvenated the long format.
Moeen said the team management was aware that his strength was in his wicket-taking ability even if he tended to go for runs.
“I’ve never been able to hold an end up,” he said.
“When I have it’s because I’ve been taking wickets. That’s the only time I’ve been able to build any pressure. Ben and Baz know that.”
- IPL 2024 LIVE Player Retention: Full list of retained, released, traded players and squads; KL Rahul stays at LSG
- China Masters 2023 final LIVE Score: Satwik-Chirag loses first game 19-21 to World no. 1 Liang-Chang
- Mohammed Shami, the good samaritan - shares video after helping road accident victim in Nainital
- Man United boss Ten Hag says season schedule tests players’ limits
- Premier League: Pochettino angered by ‘soft’ Chelsea collapse at Newcastle