Without Moeen Ali, where is England's spin depth?

Following Moeen Ali's revelation that he has "put no timeframe" on his return to Test cricket, and that he currently "intends to see out" the Pakistan Super League which clashes with the Test series in Sri Lanka, England are likely to find themselves short of a third spin-bowling option on that tour. Jack Leach and Matt Parkinson will go to South Africa as the first-choice slow bowlers, but who are the options to join them on the subcontinent?

Dom Bess

Bess has endured a strange 18 months since his Test debut; as the second-choice spinner behind Leach at Somerset, he found himself playing Second XI cricket within six weeks of his England bow against Pakistan last summer, and had to go out on loan to get Championship gametime with Yorkshire in 2019.

But he is highly rated by the England set-up, and he enjoyed a decent first-class season with 26 wickets at 26.19. He was part of the ECB's recent spin camp in Mumbai, learning from one of the best in the business in the form of Rangana Herath, and his more-than-useful batting (including a fifty on Test debut) also nudges him ahead of some other possible candidates.

Verdict: The favourite - assuming Moeen remains unavailable

Adil Rashid

Rashid was a crucial part of England's win in Sri Lanka last winter, taking 12 wickets at 28.16 in an attacking role, and has more international pedigree than any other contender for the third spin-bowling spot.

But his form in the 2019 summer suffered after his shoulder injury, and he has struggled to regain the "snap" he complained was missing during the World Cup. Throw in the fact that he has not played a Championship game since 2017, and selecting him for a Test tour seems like an unhelpful choice.

There is a further complication too, in that England have recently introduced a selection policy which now means that players are only eligible to play in the formats of the game in which they hold a domestic contract: Rashid has had discussions with Yorkshire regarding his contract for next season, and it is quite possible that he will only sign a white-ball deal.

Verdict: Benefits unlikely to outweigh risks for either party

Liam Dawson

Dawson only took 10 Championship wickets this season, and has a first-class bowling average the wrong side of 35 across his career, but his ability to hold up an end while sending down long, parsimonious spells makes him a realistic candidate to be England's third spinner.

His economy rate in the Championship this season was just 2.55, and he is sufficiently competent with the bat that he could come in as high as No. 7 if England decide they need an all-round option to complement Leach and Parkinson's lack of batting ability. He has never let England down in his international career to date, and would be the safest option out of the possibles.

Verdict: The safe, conservative option

Mason Crane

Crane has endured a torrid time since his Test debut in January 2018, with a serious back injury keeping him out for most of last season, and he failed to find any kind of form or rhythm in first-class cricket this year: his five wickets cost over 100 each, and he leaked more than five runs per over.

But England clearly think highly of him, having taken him on their spin camp earlier this month, and if a recall is improbable, it is not completely out of the question.

Verdict: A real wildcard for the time being

Amar Virdi

Virdi, a tall 21-year-old offspinner, had his 2019 season interrupted by a stress-related back injury, but continued to be left out of the Surrey side on account of his general lack of fitness. He took 14 wickets in his first game back in the first team, and ended the season with 23 first-class scalps at 19.65 apiece from his five Championship games. A former Under-19 international, Virdi has been on England's radar for some time, though they will be wary of throwing him in at the deep end, not least given his age. As a genuine No.11, he'd add little by way of batting balance either.

Verdict: Give it a couple of years

Simon Harmer

The outstanding Championship bowler over the last three years, Harmer is undoubtedly the best spinner on the circuit, but is not currently England-qualified having failed to spend the required ten months in the country for any of his three years as an Essex player, let alone all of them.

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Harmer himself says that he knows in himself "that I'm the best offspinner in the world", and hopes that the ECB would consider backdating his visa or pleading extenuating circumstances to the ICC in order to help him qualify almost immediately.

But realistically, it is something of a stretch to suggest that touring Sri Lanka with England is even a remote possibility: Harmer will have to bide his time before there's any chance of him pulling on a Test cap again.

Verdict: They couldn't, could they?