Ali could earn England reprieve after thumb injury for Leach

FILE - In this Thursday, March 29, 2018 file photo, England's Jack Leach ducks to avoid the ball during play on day one of the second cricket test against New Zealand at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand. A thumb injury to spinner Jack Leach on the eve of England’s squad announcement for the first test against Pakistan could lead to a reprieve for Moeen Ali. Leach replaced Ali for England’s last test match, a draw against New Zealand in Christchurch in late March, and was set to keep his place in the squad for the start of the Pakistan series. England’s new national selector, Ed Smith, is scheduled to announce the squad on Tuesday, May 15. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, file)

LONDON — A thumb injury sustained by spinner Jack Leach on the eve of England's squad announcement for the first test against Pakistan could lead to a reprieve for Moeen Ali.

Leach replaced Ali for England's last test match, a draw against New Zealand in Christchurch in late March, and was set to keep his place in the squad for the start of the Pakistan series.

However, Somerset said Monday that Leach broke his left thumb — on his bowling hand — while batting in the nets before an English County Championship match. The county did not say how long Leach would be out, but the injury makes him a doubt for England.

England's new national selector, Ed Smith, is scheduled to announce the squad on Tuesday.

With no obvious contenders ready to step up, Ali could earn a recall.

Smith must also decide who partners opening batsman Alastair Cook, with Mark Stoneman not in great form for Surrey in the County Championship. Middlesex opener Nick Gubbins has scored 107 and 99 in his last two championship innings and could be in line for a test debut.

Cook is already up to his 12th opening partner since 2012.

The first test at Lord's starts on May 24. The second test takes place at Headingley starting June 1.

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