Count me out

Moeen tells Eng­land he needs break from Test cricket

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Nick Hoult CRICKET NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Moeen Ali’s Test ca­reer is on hold af­ter he asked Eng­land for an in­def­i­nite break from the for­mat, although he re­mains avail­able to play one-day cricket.

Moeen was yes­ter­day only awarded a white-ball cen­tral con­tract by Eng­land and will not be con­sid­ered for se­lec­tion for the tours to New Zealand and South Africa. Eng­land are hope­ful he will be back for the two Tests in Sri Lanka in March, un­less some­one else has emerged to take his place.

“It’s just to get away from it a lit­tle bit,” said Moeen. “I feel like I want to en­joy my bat­ting and this will give me a bit of a break. I want to spend some time with the fam­ily. I’ve been play­ing for Eng­land for five years and it’s been quite tough. The in­ten­sity is ob­vi­ously higher in Test cricket so this is just to give me a break and then we will see what hap­pens af­ter that. I’m not rul­ing out play­ing Test cricket in the fu­ture.”

Ash­ley Giles, the di­rec­tor of cricket, said at Lord’s yes­ter­day that no “time frame” has been put on Moeen’s re­turn to the Test arena.

“For all guys, not just Moeen, it’s been a re­ally chal­leng­ing sum­mer,” said Giles. “A World Cup and Ashes back-to-back has had a mas­sive ef­fect on many of these guys psy­cho­log­i­cally, as much as phys­i­cally.

“He has been a great ser­vant to this team and that’s why I en­cour­aged him to leave the op­tion open to come back. He might just need to go away and freshen up. He’s [still] rel­a­tively young.”

The de­ci­sion leaves Jack Leach as Eng­land’s first-choice spin­ner, but they will need a re­serve for the New Zealand and South Africa tours, with Do­minic Bess, who played two Tests last sum­mer, the most likely can­di­date. Adil Rashid also lost his Test con­tract yes­ter­day and is now ex­pected to re­tire from first-class cricket to pur­sue a ca­reer play­ing fran­chise T20 cricket. He re­mains part of Eng­land’s white-ball plans.

Moeen, 32, was dropped from the Test team af­ter a poor Ashes se­ries in Aus­tralia 18 months ago, but re­turned half­way through last sum­mer and was re­ju­ve­nated as a spin­ner. But his bat­ting fell away and he was dropped af­ter the first Ashes Test this sum­mer, when he was com­fort­ably out­bowled by Nathan Lyon and looked bereft of con­fi­dence. He also lost his place dur­ing the World Cup cam­paign, but that was partly due to the pitches not suit­ing Eng­land’s tac­tic of pick­ing two spin­ners.

Leach took his place for the Ashes se­ries and be­came a hero with the bat, but he is a fledg­ling bowler at Test level and Eng­land want to see more from him be­fore giv­ing him a cen­tral con­tract. He was awarded an in­cre­men­tal con­tract yes­ter­day, which puts him on a re­tainer, but not on the same lu­cra­tive salary as the full-time cen­trally con­tracted play­ers.

Giles con­firmed Eoin Mor­gan will con­tinue as cap­tain of the one­day team and take the side to the Twenty20 World Cup in Aus­tralia in Oc­to­ber next year. That for­mat will be­come the main fo­cus, with an­other Twenty20 World Cup 12 months later in In­dia, but at some point Eng­land will have to move on from Mor­gan and ap­point an­other cap­tain who can plan for the 50-over World Cup in 2023.

Eng­land showed their ruth­less­ness by cut­ting Liam Plun­kett from their list of con­tracted play­ers, de­spite his three wick­ets in the World Cup fi­nal.

Plun­kett was one of Mor­gan’s most trusted play­ers and Eng­land won ev­ery match in the World Cup when he was in the side. But, at 34, his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer is over and the World Cup-win­ning XI will never play to­gether again. “Dis­ap­pointed is an un­der­state­ment,” Plun­kett said last night.

Test-match con­tracts James An­der­son (Lan­cashire), Jofra Archer (Sus­sex), Jonny Bairstow (York­shire), Stu­art Broad (Not­ting­hamshire), Rory Burns (Sur­rey), Jos But­tler (Lan­cashire), Sam Cur­ran (Sur­rey), Joe Root (York­shire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Chris Woakes (War­wick­shire). ODI/T20 con­tracts Moeen Ali (Worces­ter­shire), Archer, Bairstow, But­tler, Joe Denly (Kent), Eoin Mor­gan (Mid­dle­sex), Adil Rashid (York­shire), Root, Jason Roy (Sur­rey), Stokes, Woakes, Mark Wood (Durham). In­cre­men­tal con­tracts Tom Cur­ran (Sur­rey), Jack Leach (Som­er­set).

Chal­leng­ing sum­mer: Moeen Ali was dropped af­ter the first Ashes Test

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