Ashes bunny steps away from game
Out-of-sorts England all-rounder Moeen Ali has been backed by captain Joe Root to revive his Ashes campaign after taking a short break from the game.
Moeen was axed by England for the Lord's Test in their only unforced change following the 251-run defeat and has been given leave from county side Worcestershire "recharge his batteries" after a busy schedule involving a World Cup before the Ashes opener.
That break could amount to missing the county's upcoming T20 Blast fixtures, with Moeen named to return against Northamptonshire in Sunday's red-ball clash as he searches for some confidence after being worked over by Ashes nemesis Nathan Lyon in the opening Test defeat.
The multi-format star looked a shell of his best at Edgbaston where he was again all at sea against Lyon, who dismissed him cheaply in both innings.
It continued a worrying recent history between the pair in which Lyon has taken his bunny's scalp nine times in 11 innings from the past six Tests between Australia and England.
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The stranglehold Lyon has over Moeen appears to be affecting the Englishman's bowling as well, with the right-armer returning match figures of 3-130 on a pitch which was offering considerable turn from day one.
Root sought out Moeen to discuss the star's headspace and said that despite his Edgbaston nightmare, and struggles against Australia dating back to the start of the last Ashes series, he felt Moeen's Ashes campaign was far from over.
"We felt it was best for him to play some county cricket, and perform well for Worcester," Root said on Tuesday.
"As he proved last time around last summer, coming into that India series having a massive influence on it, and there's no reason why (Moeen) can't go back and do the same again, and try and force his way back into the squad.
"You know, he's been a big part of English cricket, he's done some fantastic things in a Test shirt.
"And it's certainly not the last we'll see of them, he's a fine character, a great man and gives so much to this team. And I'm sure that it won't be long until you see him back involved."
Worcestershire coach Alex Gidman said Moeen's decision to take a short break from the game was made with the county's blessing.
"Mo is spending a little time away from the middle recharging his batteries and putting in some quality practice time which he feels he needs, and we completely respect," Gidman said.
Moeen had been expected to feature in Worcestershire's squads ahead of the T20 Blast, but will now make his return in Sunday's Division One first-class game.