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HomeCricketIt's hard on Jack Leach but the return of Moeen Ali makes England...

It’s hard on Jack Leach but the return of Moeen Ali makes England STRONGER in the Ashes, insists Graeme Swann… because the all-rounder will extend the batting and test Australian left-handers with his off spin

He was known for his positivity when becoming one of England’s best spinners and Graeme Swann was on the front foot again on Wednesday when delivering his verdict on their latest huge call.

‘I think it makes us stronger,’ said Swann on the sudden elevation of Moeen Ali from Test retirement to frontline Ashes spinner. ‘That’s hard on Jack Leach because he was doing a good job but this move extends the batting and now we’ve got an off-spinner bowling at all those Australian lefties. I’m glad to see him back. Mo’s still a brilliant talent.’

It is a back injury to Leach, ever-present in England’s Test transformation under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, that has suddenly and unexpectedly re-opened the door to an off-spinning all-rounder who, at 35, had previously told the coach ‘sorry, I’m done.’

But Swann, back at Lord’s, has no doubts England have done the right thing in turning to a man who has not played a red-ball match in two years after putting all his efforts into white-ball cricket with his country and in the franchise world.

‘The very fact Baz and Stokesey are in charge makes this easy for Mo to come back,’ said the three-times Ashes winner. ‘They’ve said ‘you come in and all your positive attributes are what we’re after’.

Moeen Ali has joined England's Ashes squad after answering their SOS call this week Moeen Ali has joined England's Ashes squad after answering their SOS call this week

Moeen Ali has joined England’s Ashes squad after answering their SOS call this week

Ben Stokes (right) and Brendon McCullum (left) asked all-rounder to come out of retirement Ben Stokes (right) and Brendon McCullum (left) asked all-rounder to come out of retirement

Ben Stokes (right) and Brendon McCullum (left) asked all-rounder to come out of retirement

Graeme Swann has no doubts England have done the right thing in turning to Moeen Graeme Swann has no doubts England have done the right thing in turning to Moeen

Graeme Swann has no doubts England have done the right thing in turning to Moeen

Swann was at Lord's at the launch of ¿Net Gains¿ campaign backed by IG aimed at building cricket nets for community use in the five cities hosting Ashes Tests Swann was at Lord's at the launch of ¿Net Gains¿ campaign backed by IG aimed at building cricket nets for community use in the five cities hosting Ashes Tests

Swann was at Lord’s at the launch of ‘Net Gains’ campaign backed by IG aimed at building cricket nets for community use in the five cities hosting Ashes Tests

‘There will be none of the hang ups of anything that has happened before or of the possibility of not performing or whatever. I’m sure Mo will just be given a license to run up and bowl, spin it as hard as he can and bat the way he can.’

But how about that long absence from the red-ball game? Can Moeen, whose return in the squad for the first two Ashes Tests was confirmed yesterday, simply come back and carry on where he left off in taking 195 Test wickets and scoring 2,914 runs?

‘England won’t worry about that,’ said Swann at the launch of the ‘Net Gains’ campaign backed by trading and investing provider IG aimed at building cricket nets for community use in the five cities hosting Ashes Tests this summer.

‘They are redefining red-ball cricket and I applaud that. I think it’s great. My only concern is the difference between bowling with the red Dukes ball and the white Kookaburra. The Dukes isn’t as easy to grip but if the sun is out and it’s dry that won’t be a problem for Mo.’

What, though, does the return to a man who turns 36 during the first Test at Edgbaston say about the dearth of English spin talent? Swann, who was a consultant with the Lions in the winter and wants to coach more with England, is well qualified to judge.

‘It is concerning that we haven’t got 10 candidates lining up and banging on the door but we do have spinners coming through,’ said Swann. ‘Someone like Jack Carson at Sussex is a great little bowler and probably wouldn’t get fazed by Test cricket because he’s quite a feisty Northern Irishman. But the Ashes could ruin a career before it’s started so I think Mo is both the safe and most exciting option.’

 

Honest players loved Flowers

Former England coach Andy Flower has joined the Australia squad on a consultancy basis Former England coach Andy Flower has joined the Australia squad on a consultancy basis

Former England coach Andy Flower has joined the Australia squad on a consultancy basis

Swann had an interesting take on what will be the strange sight of three-times Ashes winning England coach Andy Flower in an Australian tracksuit this summer working as a consultant with the old enemy.

‘I don’t think England should have let it happen,’ said Swann. ‘They should have said ‘we’ll pay you what they are to come back and work with us.’ You can’t stop a man doing it but England shouldn’t allow Australia to have any little advantage.

‘Good on Andy, though. He was an absolute joy as England coach and I look forward to working with him again for Trent Rockets this summer. He was so blunt and up front with England and I loved that. Honest players thrive on that sort of coach and it was only the dishonest players we had who didn’t like his approach so much.’

Whoever can he mean?

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