England national selector Ed Smith has explained why Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow were left out of the squad for the first West Indies match and informed both they can still have futures in Test cricket.
Moeen has not played red-ball cricket for England since last summer’s Ashes series and opted out of the winter tours to New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
He confirmed in March he was ‘ready’ for a Test return, however, and was in contention of featuring in next week’s West Indies opener after joining England’s training bubble at the Ageas Bowl.
On Saturday morning, however, England confirmed Moeen had been left out of the 13-man squad and reserve list, with Dom Bess and Jack Leach picked ahead of the all-rounder.
‘We’re very glad that Moeen is available for Test cricket,’ England national selector Smith said. ‘He’s a trusted and valued England cricketer.
‘Moeen being available is good news. But Dom Bess did very well in South Africa and Jack Leach has had spells as England’s main spinner recently.
‘We’re glad that Moeen is available again but at this stage there’s no change, Dom Bess is in possession and Jack Leach takes the reserve slot.’
Bairstow, meanwhile, made the last of his 70 Test appearances in the first match of last winter’s series victory in South Africa.
The Yorkshireman has endured a mixed Test career to date, with his six centuries somewhat overshadowed by more barren spells.
‘No one doubts he is a very good cricketer across formats for England. The door is not closed for Jonny,’ Smith said.
‘We’re fully aware of what he can do in Test cricket and we’re very aware of his talent in all formats. It’s also the case that we are where we were.
‘When the pandemic hit, Jos Buttler was the man in possession and he’s still the man in possession and has our full support as England’s wicketkeeper-batsman.
‘Ben Foakes was deputy on that tour to Sri Lanka, that’s where we are today.’
Smith also confirmed Bairstow, 30, would join England’s white-ball bubble ahead of the T20I series against Pakistan later in the summer.
‘Jonny is in the white-ball team and has had an exceptional spell of form in one-day cricket and there’s cricket to be played in that format,’ Smith added.
‘So it seemed the best arrangement for Jonny to move across to the white-ball bubble.
‘But I wouldn’t make any presumptions about Jonny Bairstow in terms of is anything blocked for him. There’s an understanding of how good Jonny is at his best and that’s not going to be forgotten.
‘Jonny is a very talented player and has played some very fine innings in both formats.’
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