MAN-of-the-moment Moeen Ali has been told he cannot play NatWest T20 Blast cricket for Worcestershire by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Fresh from a maiden Test century in the second Investec Test against Sri Lanka at Headingley, the County all-rounder is unavailable for tonight’s 20-over clash with Nottinghamshire Outlaws at New Road (5.30pm).
Moeen will return to Worcestershire duty for the LV= County Championship Division Two home match with Glamorgan that begins on Sunday (11am).
However, the England selectors don’t want any of their prospective Test players involved in T20 action ahead of the forthcoming five-match series with India.
New Road director of cricket Steve Rhodes explained: “Moeen is not allowed to play for us tonight, but he will be available for our LV= County Championship match with Glamorgan, starting on Sunday.
“I presume the reason for that would be that the ECB don’t want him to be involved in a format of cricket that could affect his ability to play the longer game, which is what England’s next five games will be.”
Rhodes added: “We have to respect that because, as coaches and players, we are all in it for the good of the England team.
“If we have a player away with England, then we want what’s best for them.
“The good thing is it will put Moeen in a good position for the Tests against India and we will be glad to welcome him back into the fold so he can help us in our four-day game against Glamorgan.”
Meanwhile, key all-rounder Gareth Andrew is still battling to overcome a back niggle that is preventing him from bowling.
The 30-year-old played as a specialist batsman and helped the Rapids to victory over Durham Jets in a rain-reduced match, which could be an option today, given the indifferent weather forecast.
“Gareth is not fit to bowl yet and I’m not sure when he will be – his recovery has been slower than expected,” said Rhodes.
“He is in our squad and we have the option to play him just as a batsman if it is a reduced-overs game.”
Rhodes insists his side will be full of respect for the Outlaws, but added tonight’s opponents must show the same courtesy to the Rapids after their run of six successive T20 Blast victories has taken them to the top of the North section.
He said: “They have a squad that boasts the likes of Michael Lumb, Alex Hales, who is injured at the moment, Phil Jaques, Samit Patel, James Taylor and Rikki Wessels, while their bowling attack is very good too.
“We will respect them, but our current run of form means they will have to respect us too.”
Rapids (from): Mitchell, Oliver, Kohler-Cadmore, Munro, Kervezee, Whiteley, Cox, D’Oliveira, Shantry, Saeed, Russell, Andrew.