Moeen Ali has recovered from the “splitting headaches” caused by coronavirus and is ready to return to the England side as they make changes for the first Test against India on Friday.
Moeen missed the Sri Lanka series after contracting Covid and spent ten days in quarantine. He is now fit again and putting pressure on Dom Bess for the off-spinner’s place and also offers England the option of picking three spinners.
Moeen has not played Test cricket since the last Ashes series but scored three hundreds on his last tour to India. He struggled with his bowling in that series but Bess was flattered by his figures against Sri Lanka and Moeen’s extra batting would lengthen the order, coming in at seven after Jos Buttler if England stick with three seamers-two spinners model.
Buttler is only available for the first Test and Moeen revealed he too has been told he will be rested for the final two Tests in India to give him a break before the white ball series, even though he has not played the long form for such a long time.
Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Rory Burns, the players who flew direct to India last week and were not in Sri Lanka, emerged from six days’ quarantine in their hotel rooms to net in Chennai on Saturday. Stokes is still carrying knee and shoulder niggles and it is not clear how much bowling he will be able to contribute. Burns is likely to open with Dom Sibley, moving Zak Crawley to three and Stokes replacing Dan Lawrence at five. Jofra Archer will take the place of Mark Wood, who went home after the Sri Lanka series.
“I was not surprised, I had a feeling because once I landed I didn’t feel great,” said Moeen. “Through the evening I had splitting headaches. Part of me was thinking ‘let’s get this over and done with, as long as it’s not too bad’. I had a loss of taste for a day or so, splitting headaches for three days, my body was very sore and the fatigue was….I’ve never experienced that sort of tiredness before in my life. It was three days feeling pretty rough and the rest was fine.
“In terms of being ready to play, I think I’ll be fine to play, I’ll be ready. I’ve waited long enough. Going to Sri Lanka I was hoping to play and we probably would have played three spinners in the first game but with what happened that wasn’t the case.”