Stokes reached out to Moeen with a simple yet impactful message, a question mark followed by the word ‘Ashes?’ This unexpected communication from his fellow player caught Moeen off guard.
“Stokesy messaged me with a question mark — ‘Ashes?'” Moeen disclosed during a press interaction at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
Initially, Moeen thought Stokes was joking and was unaware of the news regarding Jack Leach‘s injury. However, once he learned of Leach’s unavailability, Moeen had a conversation with Stokes to discuss the possibility.
“Then the news came through and I had a chat with him,” Moeen explained. “That was it. It’s the Ashes. To be part of it would be amazing.”
Having last played Test cricket in September 2021, Moeen’s decision to return was heavily influenced by his growing rapport with Stokes. The duo had spent time together as teammates at the Chennai Super Kings during this year’s Indian Premier League. Moeen acknowledged the significance of Stokes’ role in his comeback, stating, “Probably not, no,” when asked if any other captain could have convinced him to reconsider retirement.
With 64 Test appearances for England, Moeen has showcased his prowess as both a destructive batsman and a skilled off-spinner. However, the Ashes battles against Australia have proven to be a challenging test for him, as his bowling average has skyrocketed from 36.66 to 64.65 in those encounters.
Nonetheless, Moeen is eager to embrace the opportunity to be a part of the Ashes series, expressing his enthusiasm to contribute to England’s pursuit of their first Ashes triumph since 2015.
“The fact that it is the Ashes and it is such a big series, to be part of it would be amazing,” Moeen expressed.
He also praised the impact of Stokes on the team’s performance, highlighting the freedom and confidence he brings to their approach. Moeen emphasised that under Stokes’ leadership, there are no doubts or restrictions on the shots they play, enabling him to take more risks. He also commended Stokes’ aggressive mindset with the ball, acknowledging that while he may concede runs, Stokes recognizes the potential for match-winning deliveries.
England has experienced significant success since Stokes teamed up with coach Brendon McCullum last year, winning 11 out of their 13 Tests. Moeen is thrilled to contribute to the team’s exciting style of cricket as they gear up for the highly anticipated Ashes series.
(With inputs from AFP)