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Moeen Ali tells new England head coach Brendon McCullum he is willing to come out of Test retirement

Moeen Ali has told Brendon McCullum he is prepared to come out of Test retirement to help England’s new head coach rebuild their red ball fortune – and he could be joined by his good friend and fellow spinner Adil Rashid.

Looking to assemble a squad of cricketers to ‘dominate at the top’, McCullum has chosen both men, along with Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone, as players who can give strength to the England Test team in all circumstances.

Ali, who took 195 wickets in his spare time and scored 2,914 runs in 64 tests, retired from the format in September due to a lack of motivation. He also felt that he was sometimes abused by former Captain Joe Root. But The Mail on Sunday understands that he has already spoken to McCullum about his future.

Moeen Ali dropped out of Test cricket due to lack of motivation but was able to return

Moeen Ali dropped out of Test cricket due to lack of motivation but was able to return

A source said: ‘He really respects Brendon and would play for him. He has always been committed to England and wants to continue. He will assist if needed.’

With England set to play three Tests in Pakistan this winter, McCullum – whose first task is to beat his compatriots New Zealand in a three-match series starting Thursday at Lord’s – will want as many spin bowling options as possible.

Ali may also be included in the settlement against South Africa in August. On their last visit here four years ago, he scored 252 runs and took 25 wickets at 15, including a hat-trick at The Oval.

When told that Ali had retired from Test cricket, McCullum replied: ‘We’ll see. I’m sure if Mo wanted it, and was willing to put in the yards to make it back in the side, he would no doubt challenge.’

Ali can be accompanied by good friend Adil Rashid (pictured), but his situation is more complicated

Ali can be accompanied by good friend Adil Rashid (pictured), but his situation is more complicated

The situation of leg spinner Rashid is more complicated. Like Ali, he fell out of love with Test cricket during Root’s reign and has not played a single first-class match, including for Yorkshire, since the Bridgetown Test in January 2019.

It doesn’t help that there are few opportunities to prove that he can bowl for long periods with the red ball. Between now and September, the only four-day county game not to clash with Rashid’s white-ball pledges with England is against Hampshire, which starts on June 12.

Despite this, a long-standing shoulder problem is now a thing of the past, and he’d be excited at the thought of being part of McCullum’s dynamic set-up – assuming he can get enough first-class cricket under his belt.

All seven of his four-wicket hauls in Test matches have come in Asia, bringing the Pakistan tour into sharper focus. He’s 34 – the same age as Ali – but wouldn’t think about retirement just yet.

“I’m not sure if someone like Adil would play every game every year,” McCullum said. “But my mindset is, if they’re the best cricketers, why not strike up a conversation and see where you come from?”

Brendon McCullum (pictured) wants to assemble a squad of cricketers to

Brendon McCullum (pictured) wants to assemble a squad of cricketers to ‘dominate at the top’

The same goes for Buttler, who was the star of this year’s IPL, scoring 400 for Rajasthan Royals, and Livingstone, who has yet to win a Test cap but whose powerful cue strike has caught the attention of the new coach .

Dropped off on the recent tour of the Caribbean after a disappointing Ashes, Buttler has seen the danger of turning his back on Test cricket altogether. But he has strong supporters in England’s new captain Ben Stokes and McCullum himself, who both believe he can add something to his 57 Test appearances.

“He’s one of those players that you immediately look at and think, ‘How can he be so dominant in some form of the game and not quite find his way, apart from a few fleeting appearances, in Test Cricket?’ McCullum.

“I look at all those guys and think there will come a time when they’ll have a chance if they’ve invested enough. There’s probably been a little bit of pain for them at times as they’ve been in and out of the team and that persistence hasn’t been for them.

“They have all played international cricket before, were successful in the other forms of the game and you would think they could make the switch. When you have some of those other guys who want to play and slam the door with their own performances, you have a team that can dominate at the top.”

As for Livingstone, who brightened the summer of 2021 with the six of them cleaning up the pavilion, McCullum said: “There needs to be a conversation about what his hunger for test cricket is. And if he wants to play, how does he see himself getting sidetracked?

“I have no preconceptions about whether he is good enough or not. I look at him and think he’s a really good cricketer, and I think it’s worth having a conversation.”

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