Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Moeen Ali has reversed his retirement from Test cricket and been added to England's Ashes squad after answering an SOS call from the team's management.
He held discussions with Ben Stokes, Brendon McCullum and Rob Key - England's captain, coach and managing director respectively - and the ECB announced on Wednesday morning that Moeen has agreed to return to Test cricket. He has been added to England's squad for the first two Ashes Tests at Edgbaston and Lord's.
"We reached out to Mo early this week about returning to Test cricket," Key said. "Having had a couple of days to reflect, Mo is excited to join the squad and play Test cricket again.
"His vast experience, along with his all-round ability, will benefit our Ashes campaign. We wish Mo and the rest of the squad well for the Ashes campaign."
Moeen has not played a first-class match since his retirement from Test cricket, which he announced in September 2021 after England's series against India. He told ESPNcricinfo at the time that he had struggled to "get in the zone" during that series, saying: "I just felt like I wasn't in it."
He has won the T20 World Cup with England and two IPL titles with Chennai Super Kings since his retirement, and has represented various franchises around the world in between his international commitments. He has also returned to Warwickshire, his home county, and spent the last week captaining their Vitality Blast side.
But since McCullum and Stokes took over a year ago, Moeen has become increasingly open to the idea of returning to Test cricket. He said last summer that he would "love" to play under the new regime: "They are both very aggressive and I think I would suit their cricket a bit more."
He gave serious consideration to a return for England's December tour to Pakistan after discussions with McCullum, but eventually opted against due to the prospect of spending more time away from his family during a busy winter of white-ball cricket.
England's squad will report to Birmingham on Tuesday and have three training days before the start of the series at Edgbaston on June 16. The venue is Moeen's home ground, but he has not played a red-ball game there since the first Test of the 2019 Ashes, when he took 3 for 172 in the match and was then dropped.
Moeen will likely bat at No. 8 if selected but is not a certain starter at this stage. Spinners often play a peripheral role at Edgbaston - only three wickets have fallen to spin in three County Championship games at the venue this season - and with Stokes' fitness to bowl still unclear, England may be tempted to field an all-seam attack supplemented by Joe Root's offbreaks.
He has struggled against Australia in the past, with 20 wickets at an average of 64.65, though those figures include a gruelling 2017-18 tour in which England's dearth of spin resources saw him play all five Tests despite ripping his spinning finger open on the seam of the ball early in the tour.