India v. England: Moeen Ali has decided to miss the last two tests


Moeen Ali
Moeen is averaging 28.88 sticks and 36.24 balls in 61 tests since his 2014 debut

Versatile Moeen Ali decided to miss the last two English tests of the tour of India.

He returned the numbers from 8-226 in the defeat of 317 series in the second test in Chennai, his first test since August 2019.

33-year-old infected with coronavirus on a tour of Sri Lanka in January and spent 14 days in isolation.

“Moeen has decided to go home. He has come to the point where he wants to get out of the balloon,” said Captain Joe Root.

“This tour was really hard for him, he faced Covid and he was in his room for so long.

“We said at the start that if the players feel like they need to get out of the balloon, that would be an option, and it’s important that we keep that.”

England has applied a rotation policy to help manage the workload of players in a busy year that includes a possible 17 tests and a World Cup in twenty-twenty.

They also take care of the well-being of players with so much time spent in bio-safe ‘bubbles’ from coronavirus outbreaks.

Moeen’s departure ‘absolutely stunning’

Former England captain Michael Vaughan described Moeen’s departure as “absolutely stunning”.

He told the Test Match Special podcast: “You just got back on the test team, take all these goalkeepers, you broke a few in the stands and now England are sending him home.”

Moeen has been recalled for a second test to the detriment of off-spinner Dom Bess, one of four changes on the side that won 227 runs in Chennai last week.

English leading cricketer James Anderson of all time was rested, goalkeeper Jos Buttler returned home after first bowler for rehearsal and rhythm Jofra Archer missed with an elbow injury.

“I just don’t understand this scientific approach to selection, as they are not flexible to keep players there who have suddenly done something,” Vaughan said.

“I just don’t understand why you would swap a series like India away, which is such a big series on the test calendar, so much and change sides.”

Archer and Ben Stokes completed both tests in Sri Lanka, while Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood missed the first two tests in India.

‘She wants to be home with her family’

Moeen took a break from Test Cricket in 2019 and struggled to regain his place before he became one revoked for winning the 2-0 series in Sri Lanka.

In the second test against India, he took 4-128 and 4-98, and his total of 49 runs – including 43 of 18 balls while the fourth afternoon confirmed the defeat of England – was more than any other player in England.

“It wasn’t about asking Moen if he wanted to stay. He made the decision,” Root said.

“We want as many players as possible to be available for as long as possible, but we also want them to be comfortable here.

“He feels like he wants to be home with his family and we fully respect that.”

Although England have rotated players for tests, their team for the two-match Twenty20 match in India starting March 12 is in full force as Eoin Morgan’s team prepares for the T20 World Cup in India in October.

Moeen is in that lineup and will also be part of this week’s auction for the Indian Premier League which runs from April to June.

Vaughan, who led England in 51 of the 82 tests, said: “This year is about winning the Ashes. I know there is a T20 World Cup, but for English cricket it is the return of that Ashes.

“It is certain that the test team has an advantage over the T20 team. They should lay all their eggs to make sure that by the time they arrive in Australia they are a team that has played a lot of cricket together.”

England’s third test with four matches in India starts on March 24 in Ahmedabad.


BBC correspondent for cricket Jonathan Agnew

Moeen didn’t have a good time. But he went back to the side and scored a few runs, finally sweetly hitting the ball and taking a few goalkeepers. He’s going home now.

Joe Root and management made it clear at the start of the tour that if a player wants to go home, he will go home. It was always part of the deal. So I can’t turn to Moeen and say you’re not going home.

It is a really difficult situation. Moeen was stuck in a room in Sri Lanka for ten days after a positive test, so it was obviously not easy for him. It will be a difficult decision for him.

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