London: Spinner Dom Bess was named in England’s 13-man squad for the first Test against West Indies and there was no place for Moeen Ali among nine reserves, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Saturday.
All-rounder Ben Stokes will lead England in the match, which will begin at the Ageas Bowl Southampton on Wednesday in a bio-secure environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moeen announced in September he was taking a break from Test cricket after losing out on a central contract for the longest format but he was included in a 30-man training group. But the ECB opted to go with off-spinner Bess, who grabbed his first five-wicket Test haul against South Africa in January.
Fellow spinner Jack Leach is among the reserves for the opening game of the three-match series. All-rounder Sam Curran, who was cleared to resume training after testing negative for COVID-19, was also placed on stand-by.
Regular skipper Joe Root will miss the first Test to be at the birth of his second child. The second and third tests will be played in Manchester.
I think the batters have worked hard on getting to a mental stage of where they need to be because most of them have scored runs here. The next three days of practice is about sharpening up the skills. But mentality is the big thing.
West Indies coach Phil Simmons, meanwhile, said his side cannot afford the batting debacles that have often undermined their tours of England. While a bowling attack featuring the likes of Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel, together with Bajan right-armer Chemar Holder and Jamaican quick Oshane Thomas, looks dangerous, the batting order is a concern.
“I think the batters have worked hard on getting to a mental stage of where they need to be because most of them have scored runs here,” Simmons told the “Cricket, on the Inside” webinar in conjunction with the Lord’s Taverners and Black Opal on Friday.
“(Shay) Hope has got back-to-back hundreds here. It’s about getting to the mental stage where you are prepared for a Test match in England, because it’s different to many other places.
“The next three days of practice is about sharpening up the skills. But mentality is the big thing.”
Simmons said West Indies are drawing strength from the way they hit back from that first Test thrashing at Edgbaston in 2017 to claim a stunning victory in the second Test at Headingley when they chased down 322.
“We are drawing on that. The Test match before Headingley we were horrible and that seems to be like that most times we go on tour. We are trying to make sure that bad match is taken out of the equation and we start properly.
“We are playing against one of the best Test teams in the world and we need to start on the front foot. We’re trying to bring back memories of Headingley and get the psychology right.”
Ben Stokes (captain), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Reserves: James Bracey, Sam Curran, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Ollie Robinson, Olly Stone.