England all-rounder Moeen Ali is confident he can reclaim his place in England’s Test side after ending his self-imposed exile and declaring himself available for all three international formats once again.
The all-rounder took an indefinite hiatus from Test cricket after a particularly poor showing in the Ashes opener last August, missing out on the rest of the series as well as winter assignments in New Zealand and South Africa.
Moeen lost his red-ball central contract, and his Test future seemed in doubt after he opted to give up the tour to Sri Lanka, where he had actually thrived on England’s last visit with 18 wickets at an average of 24.5 18 months ago.
With the trip abruptly halted because of coronavirus, Moeen’s fellow spinners Jack Leach, Dom Bess, and Matt Parkinson, we’re unable to make a compelling case to become England’s first-choice.
Now ready to return to the red-ball set-up, Moeen knows he can not expect to automatically walk into England’s XI, but with 181 wickets in 60 Tests to his name, he is backing himself to be given another chance.
Speaking via conference call, he stated: “For sure if I got the call tomorrow to play, I would definitely put my hand up. I will be available to play any cricket now.”
“I’ve got to play and get my place back. I’ve really missed playing cricket so I would want to play.”
“As long as England is winning and doing well, then it doesn’t matter who is the main spinner or anything like that.”
“I still back myself to get back into the side at some stage. It’s obviously worked out that no games were played in Sri Lanka, and I know those guys are ahead of me, the door is still open to back in.”
Moeen revealed earlier this year he felt like a scapegoat when England lost, but he feels rejuvenated by his break, which he believes could have improved him as a player.”
“I don’t want to keep going on about it now, and I just want to move forward and try to enjoy my cricket again.”
Since temporarily stepping aside from Tests, Moeen has represented England in limited-overs matches and played in the Pakistan Super League before a sudden departure from Asia because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The last couple of matches he played in the PSL were at empty grounds, an experience he accepts is a necessary measure but not one he is looking forward to if, like seems likely, cricket returns behind closed doors in the future.
He stated: “We played in the PSL the last two or three games with no one in the crowd and it was so bad. It’s different, and it’s not quite the same. It felt like those warm-up games you play before a big series.”
“It’s not ideal. Not everybody wants to play in an empty stadium. It will probably have to be the case for a while.”
Professional cricket in this country is on hold until July 1 at the earliest, with Moeen saying he is “ticking over” in the meantime thanks to an outdoor net in his garden, playing along with his six-year-old son.
He added: “With so many people dying around the world and in this country, in particular, it’s difficult for the players to really switch on.”