After a shocking defeat in the first test of The Ashes 2019, England have vowed to make a few changes to the squad- both forceful and for lack of performance.
James Anderson was injured within the first over of the first test which brought questions on his decision to play soon after coming back from injury.
A brilliant all-round performance of Jofra Archer in a first class match saw him as a straight replacement for the injured Anderson. Sam Curran was named in the 12, but is not expected to make it to the playing XI, with Chris Woakes in the bowling all rounder spot.
But the exclusion of Moeen Ali seems a story worth telling.
Ali was brought into the England team in 2014, as a replacement for Greame Swann. This was one of many intriguing decisions taken by England in the past few years. Ali was predominantly a batsman who could bowl. Asking him to replace the quality of Swann was indeed woth giving a thought.
Moeen Ali though developed his bowling and on his day troubled the best of batsmen. But was he the quality spinner that Swann was?
The situation of Moeen Ali was never quite clear. He showed glimpses of beautiful batting performances as well as some wonderful bowling performances. But most recently, his form has hit a new low.
Moeen Ali vs Nathan Lyon-
Having been overlooked from the One Day side, Ali was under pressure of not being selected in the first test. He was picked though, where he found a new way of getting out to an old foe. In 7 out of his last 9 innings, Ali got out to Lyon. And for the eighth time, Ali just left what looked like a straight forward delivery, only to see the disturbed woodwork behind him. This was a shot of a man completely out of form. If you go back into Ashes history, you can probably remember Andrew Strauss bowled off Shane Warne leaving the ball. But that was a magical delivery. A ball regarded as one of the best in the century. There was nothing magical about Lyon’s ball. Yet, Ali couldn’t read it. Such was his batting form. Perhaps, Moeen Ali left the ball alone, to be left out of the eleven.
Though he got out in such a notable fashion, he had an opportunity to mend things with the ball on a pitch that was starting to assist spin. He couldn’t. In the next innings, Lyon showed what Ali failed to extract with a six wicket haul.
Moeen Ali was in fact, expected to sit out for Jack Leach after the Ireland test match, where the left arm spinner came out with a man of the match performance, shining with both bat and ball. But Ali was given an opportunity. Perhaps, one more opportunity. There was a feeling only an extravagant performance would keep Ali in the team for the second test. But Ali’s form didn’t allow that. A time out of the team would be good for him to work on his game a little. But for now, Jack Leach will be playing ahead of him, unless England opt to go in without any spinner.
The way Ali was dismissed on the third day to Lyon, he probably knew he would be out of the team.
England XII for 2nd Test-
Joe Root (capt), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes