MOEEN Ali has been called up to England’s Test squad for the first time ahead of their opening Test against Sri Lanka next week.
The Worcestershire all-rounder was one of twelve players named in the squad for the first Test at Lord’s starting on Thursday (June 12).
The talented left-handed batsman becomes the first Worcestershire player to receive an England Test call up since spinner Gareth Batty who played in England whites between 2003 and 2005.
Ali has made the next step forward at international level after previously being involved in England’s ODI and Twenty20 plans.
Ali was included in the squad for the tour of the West Indies and the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh this winter and played in three ODIs and six Twenty20 internationals.
Now Ali, who signed a new five year contract at New Road early last summer, has been recognised for his outstanding form in red ball cricket during the past 15 months.
The 26-year-old was the leading run-scorer in the country in championship cricket in 2013 and this season is averaging 74.20 with 371 runs from five innings including 162 this week against Surrey at the Kia Oval.
Ali said: “I’m chuffed to bits to get the call and I’m ready to go. Everyone wants to play Test cricket and especially if you make your debut at Lord’s. It doesn’t get better than that. I’m really, really chuffed.
“I am really looking forward to the environment and it is a place I enjoy.
“I am pretty confident. I will bat wherever they ask me. I have just got to prepare and I am ready to be called upon when the time comes. I have batted in various positions for Worcester.
“To hit a bit of form a week before the Test series is nice.”
Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes added: “No-one hit more balls in practice than Moeen and he thoroughly deserved his call-up during the winter with Lions and then for the full tours including the World Cup.
“But what a fantastic thing that is for this club, that we’ve now got a player in the England Test squad who loves playing at this club.
“He is class. He proved it last year with the amount of runs he scored and has been determined to score heavily again this season and is also working with Saeed on his bowling.”
England’s First Test squad – Cook (capt), Ali, Anderson, Ballance, Bell, Broad, Jordan, Plunkett, Prior, Robson, Root, Woakes