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Moeen Ali moves step closer to test recall for England

Moeen Ali moved closer to a return to England's test team after an absence of nearly a year after being included Wednesday in a 30-strong training group preparing for next month’s three-match series against the West Indies.

The spinning allrounder, who has played in 60 tests, decided to take a break from longer format of the game after being dropped during the Ashes series last year. Ali has indicated he wants to be considered for selection again and will now join what England is describing as a “behind-closed-doors training group” at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl from Tuesday.

Players and an enlarged coaching staff, featuring three head coaches — Glen Chapple, Richard Dawson and Matthew Walker — seconded from county cricket, will live, prepare and train on-site in a bio-secure environment at the ground and its adjoining hotel until the first test on July 8. Regular COVID-19 checks will take place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There will be a three-day practice match starting July 1, after which the squad for the first test will be announced. The second and third tests will be staged at Manchester’s Old Trafford, where the West Indies touring party is based.

“He’s a valued member of the England set-up,” national selector Ed Smith said of Ali in a video call, "and across formats he’s been a significant contributor. “In a number of conversations over the winter, and also more recently, Moeen has indicated he wants to be considered for selection in all formats and he’s available for selection. That’s good news ... it’s always good news if you increase the talent pool.”

There were also eight uncapped players, including three who have appeared in limited-overs internationals — Saqib Mahmood, Lewis Gregory and Matt Parkinson. England said assistant coach Paul Collingwood will take charge of the one-day team later this summer, when it is hoped Ireland will tour in a three-match series. England is also scheduled to play Pakistan and Australia in ODIs but no fixtures have been confirmed.

Chapple and Dawson have recently helped out as coaches for England’s second-string Lions squad. “It’s nice for them and the players to build on effective coaching relationships and it’s also a real positive for our domestic game that we can expose a greater number of our coaches to international cricket,” said ECB performance director Mo Bobat, who added the support from England’s county teams has been “excellent” since a 55-man group was asked to gather for training last month.

The county season will not start before Aug. 1 because of coronavirus restrictions,

England squad:

Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Dominic Bess, James Bracey, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Ben Foakes, Lewis Gregory, Keaton Jennings, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Amar Virdi, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

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