Moeen Ali: England all-rounder always felt ‘one of first to get blame’

Moeen Ali says feeling as though he was “always one of the first guys to get the blame” has been “the hardest bit” about playing for England.

The Worcestershire all-rounder has been taking time away from Test cricket after being granted a break in August following a run of poor performances.

His form with bat and ball had seen him dropped from the squad.

“It was tough but I knew it was the right thing to do. I felt burnt out,” Moeen told BBC Asian Network.

“There have been days I’ve had not so good games but I feel like sometimes it’s easy to point the finger at me,” he added.

“It did get to me and that was probably one of the reasons why I felt like I needed to step back from Test cricket in particular.”

Having been part of England’s World Cup-winning squad, Moeen scored only 13 runs in four innings in Tests against Ireland and Australia, and took four wickets at a cost of 186 runs.

He scored four runs and took 3-172 as England lost the first Ashes Test to Australia at Edgbaston, with his omission from the second Test leading to the decision to take a short break from cricket.

However the 32-year-old, who has played in 60 Tests, 101 one-day internationals and 25 T20 games, was the world’s leading Test wicket-taker over the 12 months before being dropped from the squad.

“I needed this break to recharge the batteries,” said Moeen.

“It’s not something people would normally do, especially when you’ve just won the World Cup, you’re playing in the Ashes – I was doing quite well before that.

“Obviously I had a very bad game against Australia in the Ashes and then rightfully I got dropped, but it was almost like it was all my fault and like I’ve not been good enough for a while and not done anything for two years – but I have. I bat number eight and if I don’t score runs it’s all my fault? It’s difficult sometimes.”

Return date undecided

England chief selector Ed Smith said in December that he did not know when, or even whether, Moeen would return to the national side.

Moeen says he remains unsure on a Test return date but added he would “probably” decide while travelling with the one-day team in South Africa at the end of January, having been named in both the ODI and T20 squads.

“I’ll definitely come back when I feel ready. England have been amazing; the ECB have been amazing in terms of support. They fully understand where I’m coming from,” Moeen said.

“They’ve just said, ‘Whenever you’re ready, mate. We’ll be here for you’. I’m hoping it’s not going to be too long. Hopefully very soon I’ll be back.”

Test captain Joe Root has praised Moeen for adding “a different dimension,” but added that the spinner must feel “comfortable and ready” to return, while director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles told BBC Radio 4 the all-rounder “needs to make sure he’s ready to come back into that environment”.

“I think a lot of people think it was the right thing to do. Others think it was the wrong thing to do because your career is short. I never look too far ahead. It’s about getting mentally right and physically right,” Moeen added.

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