All-rounder Moeen Ali has come out of Test retirement to bolster the England squad for the first two Tests of the Ashes.
Moeen replaces first-choice spinner Jack Leach, who was ruled out of the series after suffering a stress fracture in his back.
Moeen, who turns 36 during next week’s first Test at his home ground of Edgbaston, has agreed to return to red-ball cricket for the first time in almost two years.
England did have other options, including 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed, who became England’s youngest Test cricketer when he made his debut in Karachi in December, and Surrey’s Will Jacks, but none with the experience and credentials of Moeen.
“We reached out to Mo early this week about returning to Test cricket,” said Rob Key, managing director for England men’s cricket. “Having had a couple of days to reflect, Mo is excited to join the squad and play Test cricket again.
“His vast experience, along with his all-round ability, will benefit our Ashes campaign.”
Moeen, a powerful batsman and off-spinner, has played 64 Tests for England, taking 195 wickets and scoring 2,914 runs.
But Australia have proved tough opponents for Moeen, with his career bowling average climbing from 36.66 to 64.65 in Ashes cricket.
The first match of the five-Test series gets under way on 16 June at Edgbaston.
Ben Stokes’ England are seeking to wrest back the Ashes from Australia, who have not won a series in England since 2001.
© Agence France-Presse