Moeen Ali: England all-rounder retires from test cricket

England's all-rounder Moeen Ali celebrates taking a wicket in a test against India
Moeen Ali took the third most proving grounds by a spinner for England

England all-rounder Moeen Ali has announced his retirement from test cricket, but will continue to play in limited international matches.

The 34-year-old Moeen scored 2,914 runs and took 195 wickets in 64 events, having made his debut against Sri Lanka in 2014.

He won the 50-year-old World Cup in 2019 and is in England preliminary team for this year’s T20 World Cup.

“I want to play as long as I can and I just want to enjoy my cricket,” Moeen said.

“I’ve enjoyed test cricket, but that intensity can be too much at times and I feel like I’ve done enough and I’m happy and content with how I’ve done it.”

Moeen added that test cricket was “better than any other format by far” and “more rewarding” when played well.

The left-handed hitter and off-spinner hit five centuries and made five five-wicket pitches in Trials, finishing with a batting average of 28.29 and a bowling average of 36.66.

Only 15 bowlers have taken more proving grounds for England and Moeen ranks third among English spinners, behind Derek Underwood (297) and Graeme Swann (255).

In 2017, Moeen became the fifth-fastest player in terms of games played to reach 2,000 runs and 100 wickets, and he also posted a hat-trick against South Africa that year to seal a series win at The Oval.

He was part of the winning 2015 Ashes team but struggled during the 2017-18 series in Australia and took a break from cricket after being knocked down during the 2019 Ashes at home.

Moeen was not called up to the test team until the Sri Lanka tour in January this year, but missed both tests after get coronavirus and spent 14 days in isolation.

He finally made his comeback at the second test in India in February, taking eight wickets, before traveling home as part of England’s rotation policy before the final two tests.

He played three of England’s four Home Tests against India this summer before the fifth was canceled due to Covid-19 concerns.

Had Test 5 been advanced, Moeen could have become the 15th player in Test history to score 3,000 runs and take 200 wickets.

Following the T20 World Cup in Oman and the United Arab Emirates in October and November, England will face Australia in the series of five Test Ashes starting on December 8.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there will be no “special arrangements” for families of England cricketers to travel and some players are considering retiring due to strict Covid-19 protocols.

Moeen, who has also played 112 one-day internationals and 38 T20s, has two young children and thanked his family for their support.

“Everyone has been amazing on my journey, everything I did I did for them,” he said.

“My brothers and my sister, in my bad days they have been the first to pick me up, my wife and my children, the sacrifices of my wife and the patience she has, I am very grateful for that.

“My parents are my number one, I feel like without their support there would be no way I would have done it.”

Moeen also thanked former coach Peter Moores, current coach Chris Silverwood, former captain Sir Alastair Cook and current captain Joe Root.

He added that he hoped his tryout career would inspire other British Muslims to play for England.

“I would love if someday 10 years from now someone would say ‘Moeen made it easier for me,'” he said.

“There have been guys before me who made it easier, so you hope to open the door for someone else.”

He is currently in the United Arab Emirates, where he plays for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

He captained Birmingham Phoenix in the men’s Hundred inaugural tournament this summer and is expected to continue playing white ball cricket nationally for Worcestershire.

‘A big loss’ for the test team – Root

England Test captain Root said Moeen would be “a great loss” to the team and wished the off-roader “every success in whatever it chooses to do.”

Root added that Moeen “has sometimes been underestimated” outside the locker room but never inside it.

Moeen reached his first century of testing in just his second game and scored four tonnes in 2016 but never added to that tally, also hitting every position between one and nine for England.

Root said “there may have been times when we could have done things slightly differently” when asked about England’s handling of Moeen, but added: “I could say that about a lot of things.”

He said Moeen had been “a wonderful role model” and hoped that young children “would want to follow in his footsteps because he has done fabulous things.”

“The way it stands is fantastic. It leaves a legacy,” added Root.

Analysis – Moeen leaves Ashes gap for England

Stephan Shemilt of BBC Sport

Only two spinners, Derek Underwood and Graeme Swann, have taken on more proving grounds for England than Moeen, but you wonder if he ends up his career a bit underrated.

In his prime, Moeen’s hitting was so graceful that an average of 28 is a modest return, and frustrations from those returns eclipsed his value on the ball. Perhaps if he were a tailed rabbit, his place as a bowler would never have been in question.

Without him, and possibly without Ben Stokes, England face a problem balancing their Ashes team. How do they keep their batting long, play enough riveters and a specialized spinner?

Moeen has admitted that the demands of an Ashes tour played a role in this decision, and the next trip is likely to be the most arduous since players traveled on a boat.

The Cricket Board of England and Wales has received information from Cricket Australia on the conditions and restrictions that tourists will face. There will be some trading between the two boards before the England players are introduced at the end of this week.

After that, players will make individual decisions about their participation before a team is named in the week beginning October 4. By then, some will already be on their way to the Twenty20 World Cup.

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