Moeen Ali’s sore finger will stop him bowling in this weekend’s Ashes tour match in Perth.
Moeen, set to captain his country for the first time in the two-day fixture against a Cricket Australia XI at Richardson Park, has decided it is not worth the risk of exacerbating his injury and will therefore play as a specialist batsman only.
It is a blow to the all-rounder’s prospects of much-needed improvement with the ball in next week’s must-win third Test, after his fellow off-spinner Nathan Lyon has so comprehensively out-bowled him in the first two matches.
Moeen needs more bowling to get back to his best, having taken just two wickets at 98 runs each – while Lyon has 11 at 22.72 for Australia, who have opened up a 2-0 lead with three Tests to play.
But he said: “I probably won’t bowl this game – just to give my finger a bit more time.
“As a finger spinner, it’s the one thing I really need to be 100 per cent.
“I ripped it in the first game and it’s not been easy. It just needs to heal.
“As soon as I start bowling it starts to rip a little bit, but it is healing now. I hope another week or at least five or six days will be quite good for it.”
The issue of ‘sledging’ continues to dominate this series, meanwhile, but Moeen has risen above any comments which have come his way.
His team-mate Jonny Bairstow confirmed in his newspaper column on Friday that some of the remarks directed at him went beyond the much-publicised jibes about his ‘headbutt’ greeting for Australia opener Cameron Bancroft in a bar at the start of England’s tour.
Moeen said: “If it’s got personal, then it’s a shame.
“But you kind of expect it, I think. Probably both sides have done a bit of the same, so you’ve just got to get on with it and take it on the chin.
“It’s a big series, and sometimes the opposition will try and do anything to get into your bubble.”
As for England’s prospects of battling back to retain the urn, Moeen reports the perilous situation has concentrated minds.
“Yes, definitely,” he said. “It has to – otherwise, we’re in a struggle for the next three games.
“We’ve got three games to put it right. Obviously, 2-0 down isn’t great – but we still have a chance.
“It’s a slight chance, but we’ve got a good enough team – and we’ve shown we can compete and hope to get back into this Ashes series.”
England could not sustain their mid-match fightback in the second Test, but Moeen added: “We took a lot out of Adelaide actually.
“We started to fight back, and that’s brought us closer together as a team. We’ve started to believe a bit more.
“Obviously, on the last day we couldn’t do it. But as a team, we believe now that we can.”