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If there was a Test match tomorrow and I got the call, I’d say yes: Moeen Ali

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After being replaced by Jack Leach following a poor show in the first Ashes Test and being omitted from the upper tier of the ECB contract list, for the first time since his England debut in 2014-15, Moeen Ali had opted for a break from Test cricket.

Moeen Ali was coming off a hectic season that saw England lift their maiden ODI World Cup. He was clearly tired as the Ashes kicked off on August 1, just two weeks after England won (more like drew) the physically and emotionally draining final against New Zealand. England lost the first Ashes Test by 251 runs in what was a brilliant come-from-behind win for Australia.

With figures of 13-3-42-1 and 29-1-130-2, Ali was clearly a bit off though the game. As Nasser Hussain pointed out during commentary, he was probably just floating the balls on a mark, rather that putting his body into it. The result, he conceded runs at 3.20 in the first innings and at 4.50 in the second innings.

Ali was (perhaps) rightly replaced by Jack Leach for the next match at Lord's. Combined with that, he was omitted from the upper tier of the ECB contract list. The all-rounder was understandably disillusioned and decided to opt for a break from Test cricket.

Ali has not played a Test since, but amid the lockdown, he has now expressed his availability for the future red-ball games. "I think I’d probably be ready now, to be honest. Clearly I would have to be playing well and win a spot back on merit but in terms of being available – and obviously I’m speaking hypothetically – if there was a Test match tomorrow and I got the call, I’d say ‘yes’. We’re all missing cricket right now and the coronavirus [hiatus] makes you realise what you love. It could take out the whole summer and that would be a big thing.

The 32-year-old sat out the Test series of England’s winter tours of New Zealand and South Africa. He also expressed his unavailability for the aborted trip to Sri Lanka. He was clearly miffed at something, possibly for being given the blame for an Ashes defeat, but the lockdown seems to have assuaged Ali's hurt.

"This current break has made me realise that when you find yourself surrounded by a few negative comments, somehow it’s all you can focus on. You have to be mentally stronger and filter more of it out," he said while answering fan questions.

"With so much happening in the world right now, this has been time to reflect. You realise you don’t know how long you are on earth and so what people might say about you really doesn’t matter. If that’s someone in the media talking about your cricket, they’re just doing their job and there is no point getting affected.

"It’s almost been a case of forgiving anyone who has ever said anything I didn’t like and now looking to start afresh when we get back playing. I may have felt like a scapegoat at times in the past but I’m over it now. It’s time to move on."

Having played 60 Tests, Moeen has scored five centuries and picked up 181 wickets. The fourth most successful spinner for England would expect to build on the period right before his sabbatical from Test cricket, arguably his best 12 months with the ball.

© Cricket World 2020


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