England have added a new spinner to their squad for the second men’s Ashes Test against Australia at Lord’s.
Moeen Ali was recalled to the England Test side for the start of the series, but suffered a finger injury during the two-wicket loss at Edgbaston and is facing a race against time to recover in time for the second Test.
And England announced on Friday that they have called up 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed to their squad as cover for Moeen.
Liam Dawson had been discussed as a potential option for England, but instead it is the young talent Ahmed who has got the nod.
The 18-year-old excelled on his debut Test in Pakistan last year, taking seven wickets in the match including a five-wicket haul.
But the England selectors have been keen to protect the talented young leg-spinner, who lit up the U19 Cricket World Cup in 2022, leaving him out of subsequent squads to give him space to develop.
Should Ahmed be picked for Lord’s it would be his first Test appearance in home conditions, although his ability with the bat would be a boost to England’s long tail, with the youngster averaging 33.10 with the bat in county cricket.
Moeen remains in the squad, with England hopeful that his blistered spinning finger will heal over in time for the first day’s play on Wednesday 28 June.
Seven pace-bowling options remain in the expanded squad, with Ricky Ponting saying in the ICC Review that England could opt for no frontline spinner if conditions suit.
“Moeen can't play the next game with his finger the way it is,” Ponting said. “I think if the wicket is really flat, they'll obviously go for a like-for-like replacement with another spinner.
“I don't know a lot about England’s County Cricket and who the spinners are around at the moment. But Liam Dawson's name was one that was thrown around a lot in the commentary box, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's included in their squad.
“The other way they could go is to play four fast bowlers and just use Joe Root as their spinning option.
“If the wicket at Lord’s offers a little bit more, which I think it will – Lord’s will offer more for the seamers than the wicket did at Edgbaston.
“They might bring Wood into the team, which offers something a bit different. He’s obviously a lot quicker and bowls a really good short ball.”
England Squad for Lord’s
Ben Stokes (c), Rehan Ahmed, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Dan Lawrence, Ollie Pope, Matthew Potts, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Josh Tongue, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood