Moeen Ali has no regrets about his decision to retire at the end of the fifth Ashes Test that also saw Stuart Broad bring down the curtain on a storied career. The 36-year-old all-rounder was tempted out of international retirement after Jack Leach was ruled out of the series with injury but is adamant he will not travel to India at the start of next year.
“There’s no way I’m going,” said the veteran of 68 England Tests. “That’s me done. It’s nice to finish like this.”
Moeen’s opinion has changed since his first retirement in 2021, when he felt that he was wasted in the longer format, saying he had nothing to lose in accepting Stokes’s invitation to return to the England fold for the Ashes.
“Test cricket is the best cricket. I wish I could rewind time,” he said. “Although my Test career has been a bit up and down, I wouldn’t change it. I’ve loved it. I would have regretted [not accepting Stokes’s recall] later in life. It was quite daunting because I’ve never done well against Australia. I had nothing to lose – it was a free hit.”
He will now be setting his sights on franchise cricket, where he has excelled in the Hundred, the Indian Premier League and the Pakistan Super League. “White-ball [cricket] is great. I love the leagues, but there is nothing better than playing against the best attack with a new ball in their hand. It’s a challenge.”
For the time being, however, he is content to spend his post-Ashes recovery in the commentary box. “It was agreed before the Ashes. And I was supposed to commentate on three of these games and some [of the] Hundred.”
Moeen will take time out to rest an injury sustained at the Oval, which prevented him from bowling in the first innings. He joked that it had its advantages in the field: “It’s something called an adductor, I’d never heard of it before. It’s only when I’m running. It’s great, because you can get away with being rubbish in the field. Guys are moving their positions for me to go into the easiest positions.
“Apparently it settles down quick. Not bowling in the first innings and having a day off allowed me to bowl [on the final day]. It crossed my mind that I might not be able to bowl but I knew it was my last day in Test cricket.”
Leading England off the field at the Oval alongside Broad did leave him “a little bit embarrassed”, Moeen said. “It proves the man he is. I didn’t want to do it and he said I had to. From the start, he was always amazing with me. I’ve always got on well with him and really pleased he’s finished the way he has.”
Moeen also enjoyed the chance to spend his final Test playing alongside his close friend Chris Woakes. “I am so happy for Woakesy. I think we got four wickets in four overs, to do that together was amazing. We’ve travelled together, grown up together, played together, we got Covid together [Woakes had to isolate because of close contact with Moeen]. I’m really pleased for him, if ever there was people who doubted him, this has proved them wrong.”
Meanwhile, England have been docked a sizeable chunk of points in the World Test Championship after consistently falling foul of the over-rate regulations. While the standard of play in a series that ebbed and flowed was widely praised, there were repeated instances of both sides failing to reach the statutory 90 overs in a day.
England were found to be two overs short in the first Test at Edgbaston, nine in the second at Lord’s, three in the fourth at Old Trafford and five in the final Test at the Oval. Having gained 28 points – 24 for two wins and four for a draw – in a series that finished 2-2, with Australia retaining the urn as holders, England have lost 19 for infringements in four of five Tests. Australia were deducted 10 points.
That leaves England with nine points in the third edition of the WTC, dropping them below West Indies, who have played two matches and are yet to record a win.