Moeen Ali: I felt I was always to blame with England but am now ready to return

Moeen Ali has reiterated his break from playing international cricket came about due to feeling like he was “getting the blame for everything” when England under-performed.

Moeen appeared in the last of his 60 Test matches for England in the opening game of the Ashes at Edgbaston in August last year. He was dropped after the hosts slipped to a 251-run defeat.

Moeen then missed out on a central contract with England for the 2019/20 season and he decided to make himself unavailable for selection on the Test tours of South Africa and Sri Lanka, though he did return to the one-day set up.

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“For sure, I did fall out of love with the longer format,” Moeen said, via a conference call with the press. “You get into a negative space, a negative frame of mind.

“You’re getting the blame for everything and everyone is looking at you.

“I definitely felt like, while I was playing, that if we lost the game and were 54 all out or 82 all out, it was my shot that lost it or was highlighted more.

“It was my mistake with the bat. It would always be my face.”

Moeen’s break has since turned into a more lengthy absence due to the coronavirus pandemic delaying, and possibly still cancelling, the English cricket summer.

But, the allrounder is adamant he is now ready to play Test cricket again for England if and when called upon.

“Being at home, you’re kind of bored of not playing, so any sort of cricket, you’d be up for playing,” Moeen said. “For sure, if I got the call tomorrow to play [for England], I would definitely put my hand up.

“It’s about just forgetting everything and almost having a fresh start. Hopefully that’s what has happened in the last year or so, it has put me in a better mindset.

“When I first played for England, I remember telling myself I wasn’t going to let anything affect me, but I did during the last year or so I was playing

“It’s just about going back to basics and playing like I’m a kid again. I’ve just got to enjoy my cricket and not think too much about what people say anymore.

“I’d be available to play any sort of cricket now. I’m in the same boat as everybody else that wants to play; I’ve really missed playing cricket.”

Moeen, an ardent Liverpool supporter, is also missing Premier League football, with his team on the verge of clinching a first league title in 30 years before the COVID-19 outbreak.

While he stresses that sport can’t return in the current climate, he is hopeful the situation soon improves.

“The ECB are very open with us and we’ve been having lots of dialogue,” added Moeen. “They will only want us to play when things are safe and it’s the right time to play.

“Every day 500 or so people are still dying – it’s a big number – and things would have to get drastically better for players to consider playing.

“There’s still some time to go. In my mind, there are still three or four more weeks, maybe a couple of months, before we’d need to start training.

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