Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday backed England's cricketers to regain the Ashes from Australia -- but expressed alarm at an injury crisis in the bowling department.

Sunak was briefing reporters on his plane en route to Washington, where he will attend a baseball game on Wednesday.

He is not pitching the ceremonial first ball when the Washington Nationals take on the Arizona Diamondbacks -- sparing his blushes if the throw goes astray.

The honour is going to a UK military veteran, who Sunak said was more fitting for the occasion and celebration of US-UK relations.

"As you guys know, my sport is more cricket than baseball in any case," the British leader said.

"When it comes to pitching/bowling, I'm more focused on who's going to replace Jack Leach for the Ashes, which is more the concerning issue on my mind at the moment."

The spinner has been ruled out of the Ashes with a back injury, throwing England's preparations into last-minute jitters with a shock recall for all-rounder Moeen Ali possibly in the offing.

Asked who he would pick, Sunak replied: "That's tough. Either the SOS for Moeen Ali, or indeed that 18-year-old who played that one Test... who had that one unbelievable game."

The cricket enthusiast was referring to the raw but promising teenager Rehan Ahmed, who made his Test debut against Pakistan in December.

But the prime minister added: "I'm very confident. They (England bowlers) managed to get me bowled out in the garden at Downing Street, so they're in good nick."