Speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Stephen Harmison, former England quick and now a pundit for talkSPORT, said that England should recall Moeen Ali to the Test side for their upcoming series against West Indies.
Moeen last played for England in whites in the first Ashes Test in 2019, a match he will be keen to forget. The all-rounder made 0 and 4 with the bat, and conceded 130 runs in 29 overs in the second innings as Australia turned over a big first-innings lead to force victory.
That was the nadir of a poor run of form across formats which also saw the Worcestershire player left out during England’s victorious World Cup campaign, but in the period before that, he had been vital to England’s Test fortunes.
In the 12 months prior to that Ashes Test, he had more Test wickets to his name than any other bowler in the world, and had been England’s leading Test wicket-taker on both their winter tours in the 2018/19 season.
For once, England are well stocked in the spin department. Jack Leach endeared himself to home fans last summer as much for his exploits with bat as with ball, but has 34 wickets in 10 Tests at an average of 29.02 to his name, while his Somerset teammate Dom Bess impressed in Leach’s injury-induced absence in South Africa, claiming a maiden Test five-wicket haul in England’s third Test victory at Port Elizabeth.
Also in the squad are uncapped spinners Amar Virdi and Matt Parkinson, but while Harmison namechecked the former as having an important role going forward, it’s Moeen who he feels wins a place in England’s first-choice Test XI.
“I like Virdi being in there, I really like Virdi being in there, because he’s one that England need to potentially develop in the spin bowling department,” Harmison said. “Dom Bess did well in South Africa – I was out in South Africa for talkSPORT – you had troubles with Jack Leach which is disappointing for Jack and hopefully he’s come over them, but Moeen Ali comes back and for me, he plays at Southampton. If I’ve got a 30-man squad, I’m picking my best team, Moeen Ali’s in my best team, I play him.”
The first Test is scheduled to begin at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on July 8.