All-rounder Moeen Ali remains in doubt for the second Ashes Test due to an injury on his bowling hand, but Nasser Hussain believes it could force England into a critical change.
Former captain Hussain has urged England to turn to pace if Moeen is ruled out of the second Ashes Test against Australia due to a nasty finger injury.
Moeen was lured out of retirement to bolster England’s spin options for the Ashes series, but battled a laceration on his spinning finger in the first Test and is in doubt for the high-stakes clash at Lord’s.
Teenage sensation Rehan Ahmed has been added to the squad as spinning cover, but Hussain has called for England to select an extra pacer in the XI if the Lord’s pitch and weather conditions permit.
“I think they need to have a look at their team a bit. Moeen Ali, his finger, that would be a gamble,” Hussain told The ICC Review podcast.
“I know he's got a week off and he's had this injury before in 2017. Only Moeen will know whether a week is enough for the skin to heal, or whether that would just rip it up again.
“He may not bowl as many overs at Lord’s. Lord’s is not a spinning paradise. Shane Warne never got a five-for there.
“I might play four seamers and Joe Root as your spinner, but I've not seen the pitch.”
Speedster Mark Wood and Lord’s specialist Chris Woakes loom as the likely quicks to replace Moeen if England are prepared to rely on the useful part-time spin from Root.
Hussain was quick to identify Wood as next in line, and the express-pace bowler has strong form against Australia as England’s leading wicket-taker when the rivals last clashed in 2021/22.
Woakes last played a Test in March 2022, so has missed England’s resurgence under captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, but has a stunning record in five Tests at Lord’s.
The 34-year-old all-rounder has taken 27 wickets at an average of 11.33 at the venue, while also scoring 306 runs at an average of 61.2.
“He (Wood) would probably have to come in for Moeen and use Joe Root as your spinner, so go down the four seamers route, or Chris Woakes,” Hussain said.
“Chris Woakes has got a fantastic record at Lord's, and that would increase the batting as well, another all-rounder in there.
“So either Woakes or Wood for Moeen Ali.”
England head into the Lord’s Test trailing 1-0 after their dramatic two-wicket loss in the Ashes series opener.
The hosts have enjoyed a stunning 12 months with 11 victories in their 14 Tests under Stokes’ leadership, yet their captain raised eyebrows after the first Ashes Test when stating that “we are not a results-driven team.”
“It was just a brilliant week at Edgbaston, it really was. All the hype and all the chat and the build-up of 'Bazball' by fans and media,” Hussain said.
“They lived up to it right from the very first ball when Zak Crawley drove on the up off Pat Cummins and it thundered to the boundary.
“That's how they've got to where they are now. They've tried to take the result out of the equation and play a positive brand and style of cricket - they're trying to get that into the minds of their players.”
“Of course they are results driven, they want to win. But what they're trying to do is alleviate the pressure from their team. If they keep going ‘we must win, we must win’, you're putting pressure and taking away everything that has been done in the last year or so.
“They definitely want to win, all England fans want them to win, but they also want them to play attractive cricket.”
England squad for Lord’s Test
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