Ashes: Moeen Ali still part of England's best team – Jonny Bairstow
|Fifth Ashes Test, Australia v England|
|Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground Dates: 4-8 January|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.|
All-rounder Moeen Ali is still “absolutely” part of England’s best side, says wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
The 30-year-old has struggled in the Ashes series, taking only three wickets with his off-spin and averaging 19 with the bat in the four Tests played.
“There are not many finger spinners that come to Australia and bowl sides out,” said Bairstow.
“It’s important that we get behind Mo. His talent and capability are not in question.”
England had already lost the Ashes before drawing the fourth Test in Melbourne.
At the MCG, Moeen bowled 25.2 wicketless overs and hit 20 from 14 skittish deliveries, during which time he was dropped off the bowling of Nathan Lyon, and then caught at short cover off the same man.
The Worcestershire all-rounder has played 48 Tests since making his debut in 2014. He has scored five centuries and taken 131 wickets.
In the home summer against South Africa, he became the second-fastest England player to reach 2,000 runs and 100 wickets.
“It was only two months ago that we were talking about him as one of the best all-rounders in the world,” England coach Trevor Bayliss told BBC Sport.
“He’s just like any other player – sometimes you don’t take the wickets or score the runs that you would like. I’ve got full confidence in him going forward.”
Australia will take a 3-0 lead into Thursday’s fifth and final Test in Sydney, a ground that often aids spin bowlers.
However, ex-England captain Michael Vaughan has said it would be the “right thing” to omit Moeen, while former spinner Graeme Swann “can’t see how” the all-rounder fits into the team.
Both have advocated handing a debut to 20-year-old leg-spinner Mason Crane.
Bairstow, though, said England would not be making changes for the sole reason of experimenting in a dead rubber.
“You have to play your best team,” said the Yorkshire keeper. “We’re still in it to win games of cricket.
“Whether Mason plays, or whoever it is, the 11 that go out are there to win the Test.
“Yes, the series has gone, but you can see from the spirit we showed in the last Test, by no means is the foot off the gas.”