Ali's potential Ashes call-up causing resentment among fringe players

EXCLUSIVE: Moeen Ali’s potential Ashes call-up is causing resentment among players on the fringes of the England team, with the 35-year-old set to leapfrog youngsters Rehan Ahmed and Will Jacks

  • England have approached Moeen Ali to replace Jack Leach in their Ashes squad
  • They appear to have overlooked Rehan Ahmed and Will Jacks by speaking to Ali
  • Fringe players are unhappy that Ali could be recalled for this summer’s Ashes

The ECB have risked alienating England players and jeopardising their future availability by offering Moeen Ali an 11th-hour call-up for the Ashes. 

While Ali is a hugely popular character and would be warmly welcomed into Ben Stokes’ squad, Mail Sport has been told there is considerably resentment amongst players on the fringes at the prospect of the Warwickshire spinner being permitted to pick and choose his availability for Test cricket.

Ali rejected a request from coach Brendon McCullum to rescind his Test retirement before last winter’s tour of Pakistan, but England have returned to him again following the stress fracture suffered by Jack Leach that has ruled him out of the Ashes. 

While Ali is set to play for England in the 50 over World Cup this winter there appears little prospect of him being available for the five Test tour of India next year as it clashes with his Twenty20 franchise commitments, so any return to the Test arena would be a one-off.

Young spinners Will Jacks and Rehan Ahmed both impressed in Ali’s absence in Pakistan, and England’s apparent decision to overlook the pair this summer has caused disquiet. 

Moeen Ali has been approached by England to come out of Test retirement to play in the Ashes

Rehan Ahmed impressed in Pakistan in December but appears to have been overlooked

Ali also appears to have moved ahead of Will Jacks in the pecking order for the Ashes

The 18-year-old Ahmed subsequently withdrew from the IPL auction after grabbing a five-wicket haul on his Test debut in Karachi to focus on playing in the County Championship at the start of this summer.

Ali is also understood to be concerned about being seen to leapfrog Jacks and Ahmed and is concerned about the potential for impacting on their confidence. 

The 35-year-old retired from Test cricket following a Test match against India at The Oval in September 2021 and whilst excited by the prospect of playing under Stokes in the Ashes does not want to hinder the development of younger players.

The ECB are facing a difficult dilemma in assessing whether to prioritise short-term results or the preservation of the central contract system, which ties the country’s best red and white-ball players to England for most of the year. 

The decision to permit Jason Roy to terminate his incremental contract to play in the United States T20 league this summer without sacrificing his chances of making the World Cup squad, as revealed by Mail Sport last month, has also raised eyebrows amongst other players who have rejected similar deals because of their loyalty to England.

The pursuit of Ali ahead of the Ashes is understood to have been driven by McCullum and Stokes, but has been backed by the ECB, particularly managing director Rob Key. 

Ali is expected to make a decision in the next 24 hours amidst concerns that a return to the Test side could set a precedent for players seeking to cherry-pick when they are available.

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