England have dropped Moeen Ali from their squad to face Australia in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s, with Somerset’s left-arm spinner Jack Leach called up in his place. James Anderson and Olly Stone also miss out on the 12-man group through injury, as England attempt to fight back from 1-0 down in the series.
Moeen endured a difficult time in the opening Test at Edgbaston, taking three wickets at a cost of 172 runs to go with scores of 0 and 4; he was dismissed by Nathan Lyon in both innings, extending the offspinner’s mastery over him to nine of his last 11 dismissals against Australia.
England seem set to hand a Test debut to Jofra Archer, who was included in the squad for the first Test but left out as a precaution while he continued to work back to full fitness after a side strain suffered during the World Cup. He played for Sussex 2nd XI in a three-day game this week, taking 7 for 106 and scoring a century to prove his readiness.
The other option to replace Anderson, who suffered a recurrence of his calf injury after bowling four overs at Edgbaston, is Sam Curran. The left-armer has played 10 Test, most recently for Ireland’s visit to Lord’s last month.
Despite coming into the Ashes as the leading Test wicket-taker in the world over the last year, Moeen’s form had suffered a dip at the World Cup, where he lost his place in the starting XI after defeat to Australia in the group stage. His place is likely to be taken by Leach, who was England’s spinner for the four-day Test against Ireland – winning Man of the Match for his 92 as nightwatchman, having only been required to bowl three overs.
While Moeen has been a valuable contributor for England since his debut in 2014, his career has not been without its ups and downs. He suffered a chastening Ashes in Australia two winters ago, losing his place on the New Zealand leg of England’s tour – with Leach handed a debut in Christchurch.
He returned in style against India at the Ageas Bowl last summer, claiming nine wickets in the match, and was then England’s leading wicket-taker on their tours of Sri Lanka and the West Indies, though his returns with the bat remained light.
However, presented with a turning Edgbaston pitch – on with Lyon claimed a nine-wicket haul – Moeen was unable to provide either control or wicket-taking threat. On the fourth day, with England hoping to limit Australia’s lead, Moeen was ruthlessly milked as Steven Smith went on to record his second century in the match.
England’s problems in the opening Test extended to negligible contributions with the bat from Jason Roy, Joe Deny, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, but the selectors, headed by Ed Smith, have shied away from making any major changes. Rory Burns did enjoy success, scoring his maiden Test ton, while Joe Root made 57 and 28 after moving up the order to No. 3.
England squad: Joe Root (capt), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes