Sri Lanka in England 2014 June 17, 2014

Panesar 'very difficult' to select - Moores

As well as England's attack performed to push them within a wicket of victory on the final day at Lord's, they were screaming out for a specialist spinner, especially while they waited for the ball to reverse swing.

Moeen Ali did little wrong on his debut, picking up a notable maiden Test wicket in Kumar Sangakkara, and was not overawed by the situation. But nor did he cause the Sri Lankans many concerns, apart from one delivery on the final day which nearly took Sangakkara's edge to gully.

The ideal plan in the post-Graeme Swann era would have been to return to Monty Panesar, who played second fiddle to Swann but still has 167 Test wickets at 34.71. However, such are his problems, some form-related yet mostly off the field, that it appears he is further from consideration than he has ever been.

Peter Moores, the England coach, made it clear he was not in their immediate thoughts. "Monty is the most experienced Test match bowler but through other issues he has made it very difficult to look at him at the moment as an option," Moores said. "The key is to ... put himself up for selection like anyone else. Monty has to get himself in that place."

Panesar was given a second chance by the previous selection regime when he was named in the Ashes squad to tour Australia despite a season which had seen him fined for urinating on a bouncer outside a nightclub. That incident prompted a move from Sussex to Essex, where he then signed a permanent two-year contract, but this season he was dropped for timekeeping issues.

His figures in first-class cricket this summer are 26 wickets at 26.00. That puts him second among England-qualified spinners, behind Kent's Adam Riley, who has 33 wickets at 27.24. In the Sunday Times, Andrew Strauss touted Riley as an option for the India series while Kerry O'Keeffe, the former Australia spinner turned renowned commentator, has been impressed by brief glimpses over the internet.

Moores, too, has noted Riley's progress - which has kept James Tredwell out of Kent's Championship team - but has not forgotten Simon Kerrigan, who until six weeks ago was under Moores' charge at Lancashire.

"Kerrigan statistically has been the most prolific in first-class cricket," he said. "If you take that as one of the gauges it puts him in the frame. Obviously Riley has come on the scene.

"We are going to have to identify our next spinner, there's no doubt about that. All sides need the option of a frontline spinner. [One, or a couple] are going to have to play for us to be able to cover all options ... otherwise it is going to be a weakness in our ranks that people will be able to try to exploit."

Moeen's bowling has developed significantly over the last two seasons with Worcestershire, during which time he has averaged 32.56 in the Championship compared to 40.43 overall in his first-class career, but he was only given 12 overs on the final day while Joe Root was used shortly before the second new ball was taken.

It remains to be seen how much of role Moeen will play in the second Test at Headingley, but Moores said he could still be the option when India arrive.

"I think he has the chance at the moment," he said. "He is getting better quite quickly. He is going to have to adjust to take wickets as a Test match bowler."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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