Friday, July 19, 2024

Moeen Ali reveals one-word plea from Ben Stokes to come out of Test retirement

All-rounder Moeen Ali revealed a hopeful message from England captain Ben Stokes that put him on the path to an unlikely return to the Test squad for the upcoming Ashes series.

The 35-year-old all-rounder, who retired from Test cricket at the end of the 2021 summer, has reversed his decision following discussions with Test Captain Stokes and Head Coach Brendon McCullum.

Moeen replaced Jack Leach, who was withdrawn from the original 16-player squad on Sunday after sustaining a low back stress fracture, which rules him out of the five-match Ashes Test series.

The off-spinner said that he was contacted by the skipper before he heard about Leach’s injury and revealed his bizarre reply to Stokes’ one word message.

“Stokesy (Stokes) messaged me with a question mark – ‘Ashes?’,” Moeen was quoted as saying by BBC. “I just said ‘LOL’, thinking he was taking the mick.”

“Then the news came through and I had a chat with him. That was it. It’s the Ashes. To be part of it would be amazing,” he added.

The 35-year-old said that Stokes was the only England captain who could have persuaded him to come out of Test retirement for the upcoming Ashes series.

Asked if there was any other captain who could have persuaded him to change his mind, Moeen replied: “Probably not, no.”

Moeen, who is also Stokes’ teammate with Chennai Super Kings at the Indian Premier League, said that the England skipper didn’t mention anything about coming out of retirement during their IPL stint.

“I’ve obviously spent a lot of time with Stokesy during the IPL. He didn’t mention anything about coming out of retirement, it was just about the Ashes and how he was looking to take the team. He obviously watched me train out there and thinks I can bowl decently,” the 35-year-old revealed.

The off-spinner and lower-order batter had previously been more than capable in the red-ball format across 64 Tests, with 2914 runs at an average of 28.29 including five tons, and 195 wickets coming at an average of 36.66. He will celebrate his 36th birthday on the third day of the first Test.

Moeen has continued to play for England as a white-ball specialist since his retirement from Tests, and was part of the team that won the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022.

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