Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Ashes: Joe Root backs Moeen Ali to bounce back from 'short break'

All-rounder's chances of finding form before third Test at Leeds would have been limited

England off-spinner Moeen Ali is the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket over the past 12 months. Mike Egerton / PA Wire
England off-spinner Moeen Ali is the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket over the past 12 months. Mike Egerton / PA Wire

England all-rounder Moeen Ali is taking "a short break" from all forms of cricket after being omitted from the squad to face Australia in the second Ashes Test at Lord's this week, his county side Worcestershire announced on Tuesday.

Moeen contributed just four runs in the opening Test defeat at Edgbaston and offered neither control nor a consistent threat with his off-spin in taking unflattering figures of 2-130 in 29 overs in Australia's second innings. He was therefore overlooked in favour of slow left-armer Jack Leach at the 'Home of Cricket'.

Moeen's chances of finding form before the third Test at Leeds would have been limited as Worcestershire have just two Twenty20 matches before the Test starts on August 22 as well as one county championship match that only ends on the August 21.

First-team coach Alex Gidman said on the club website: "Mo is spending a little time away from the middle recharging his batteries and putting in some quality practice time which he feels he needs, and we completely respect.

"He has had an intense schedule of international cricket involving the ICC World Cup and the start of the Ashes.

"Mo loves playing for Worcestershire and he gives a lift to everyone in the dressing room when he comes back and plays for us. We look forward to when he returns soon."

Moeen is the world's leading Test wicket-taker over the past 12 months, with 48 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 25.27, yet he has struggled for form in recent outings.

Indeed, he was dropped as the World Cup reached a conclusion over concerns about his batting. In Tests, he has registered seven single-figure scores in his last nine innings, with his career average dipping below 30.

"Mo has been in and out of that team and no-one else knows what that feels like," Gidman told BBC Radio.

"We'll be ready for Mo when he wants to play again and we'll have discussions with both him and the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] and support him and be here for him, so that he can push as hard as he can to get his England spot back."

England captain Joe Root said Moeen, a veteran of 60 Tests, could regain his place.

"As he proved last summer, coming into that India series having a massive influence on it, there's no reason why he can't go back and do the same again, and try and force his way back into the squad," Root told reporters at Lord's on Tuesday before Moeen's break was announced.

"You know, he's been a big part of English cricket, he's done some fantastic things in a Test shirt. And it's certainly not the last we'll see of him, he's a fine character, a great man and gives so much to this team.

"I'm sure that it won't be long until you see him back involved."

Updated: August 13, 2019 06:50 PM

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