Moeen Ali
Moeen Ali is playing his 65th Test for England Getty Images

England all-rounder Moeen Ali was fined for breaching Level 1 of the ICC Code of Conduct during the ongoing first Test against Australia at Edgbaston on Saturday.

Moeen returned from retirement to replace injured Jack Leach for The Ashes. The 36-year-old Englishman has been fined 25 per cent of his match fee for spraying a drying agent on his bowling hand without informing the umpire.

When did the incident take place?

The incident took place on Day 2 of the underway Test in Birmingham on Saturday. When the 89th over was going on, Moeen was seen at the boundary line spraying the drying agent before coming on to bowl the next over. Playing in his 65th Test for England, Moeen subsequently accepted the charge.

Moeen admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by Andy Pycroft of the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees, so there was no need for a formal hearing, according to a release from the International Cricket Council (ICC). It also stated that "On-field umpires Ahsan Raza and Marais Erasmus, third umpire Chris Gaffaney and fourth umpire Mike Burns levelled the charge."

The match referee, however, was satisfied that Moeen had used the spray only to dry his hands. The spray was not used as an artificial substance on the ball and therefore it had not changed the condition of the ball, which "would have been in breach of clause 41.3 of the ICC playing conditions – Unfair Play – The Match Ball – Changing its Condition."

Why did Moeen Ali apply the spray?

Moeen was fined for breaching Article 2.20 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to displaying conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game. In addition to the same, one demerit point was added to the bowler's disciplinary record. It was Moeen's first offence in 24 months

It is understood that Moeen sprayed the drying agent because he is struggling with a blister on his spinning finger due to his significant workload already in this match.

Playing his first Test since September 2021, Moeen took 2-124 from 29 overs on Day two as he dismissed Australia's Travis Head and Cameron Green. While Head was caught at short midwicket, he rattled Green's stumps. With two days left in the match, England, batting in their second innings, are 28 for 2 and lead by 35 runs.

Earlier this year, India's left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was fined after applying a soothing cream to the index finger on his bowling hand during the Test series at home against Australia.

England played a one-off Test against Ireland to kick-off their 2023 summer. Unfortunately, their lead spinner Leach suffered a stress fracture during the game and it was just a few days before the first Ashes Test.

"Stokesy messaged me with a question mark.... 'Ashes?' said Moeen when reporters asked him about his decision to come out of retirement in a pre-match interview last week.

"I hadn't heard the news about Leachy at the time so I just said 'LOL', thinking he's taking the mick. The news then came through and I had a chat with him. That was it. I've obviously spent a lot of time with Stokesy in India during the IPL. He didn't mention anything about coming out of retirement, it was just about the Ashes and how he was looking to take the team. He obviously watched me train out there and thinks I can bowl decently," added Moeen.

Both Stokes and Moeen won the IPL title this year with the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK).

England are aiming to retain The Ashes for the first time since 2015. Thanks to a century from Joe Root and half-centuries from Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow, Stokes and Co posted 389 on the board in the first innings and declared.

In reply, Australia managed to score 386 runs, where opening batter Usman Khawaja scored an excellent 141 off 321 deliveries. Meanwhile, Head (50), Alex Carey (66), Green (38), and skipper Pat Cummins (38) also made vital contributions.