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Door left open for Moeen Ali to return to England Test team

The all-rounder has lost his central Test contract.

Ashley Giles has not ruled out Moeen Ali making a return to England’s Test team (Mike Egerton/PA).
Ashley Giles has not ruled out Moeen Ali making a return to England’s Test team (Mike Egerton/PA).

By George Sessions, PA

Ashley Giles has left the door open for Moeen Ali to return to the England Test team despite the all-rounder asking for a break from red-ball cricket.

The 32-year-old was dropped after the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston following a poor display and has only been handed a central contract in white-ball cricket.

Giles, managing director of the England men’s team, believes some time away could be exactly what Moeen needs to rediscover his best form in the longer format of the game.

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Moeen Ali was dropped by England after the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Moeen has actually asked me if he could just take a step back from red-ball cricket, which is fine. He’s not retiring, but he just wants a little bit of a break from Test cricket,” Giles said.

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

“Some of those guys are still carrying that and part of that will be Moeen. His experience in the first Test wasn’t a great one, but that’s cricket.

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

Moeen will not feature for England in the two-Test series in New Zealand later this year and it is a similar story for Adil Rashid – another to lose his central Test contract.

Giles added: “I think Rash has got some stuff to think about as well and with him, some of that is physical. He’s had this ongoing shoulder issue.

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Spin duo Moeen Ali, left, and Adil Rashid, right, have both lost their central Test contracts (Nick Potts/PA)

“Test cricket is much more demanding and I think that will be on his mind, but for now, he’s available across all formats until he tells me otherwise.”

The former England spinner continued: “If we started the summer and you’d offered us a World Cup win and a drawn Ashes series, we probably would have taken it.

“We’re greedy. We always want to win the Ashes, but the short gap between World Cup and Ashes was also a bit of a strange one for some of them coming out of such an emotional high and something that mentally drained them so much.”

Given the amount of cricket played this summer, England are set to rest a number of key players for the five Twenty20s in New Zealand.

Test captain Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler could all miss out, although Giles refused to confirm which players would get some time off.

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England could rest some of their World Cup-winning stars for the T20 matches against New Zealand (Nick Potts/PA)

Giles added: “I’m not going to name names, but we need to look after these guys. We are in a Twenty20 World Cup cycle.

“Most of these guys going to play in the Indian Premier League and (New Zealand) is a chance for us to look at some of the young guns who have had success in the T20 Blast and some of the franchise tournaments.”

Quizzed on the workload of England’s players and whether they should play in the IPL, Giles pointed out the competition played a part in the World Cup win, but insisted the main focus will be on representing their country.

I'm not going to name names, but we need to look after these guys. We are in a Twenty20 World Cup cycle. Ashley Giles on the possibility of resting players

“The IPL’s here to stay and it’s going to be very difficult for us to stop players going there without risking losing them, so we’ve got to accept that,” he said.

“But then we have to manage our players outside that. I know they are England players and essentially contracted, but that window is left open for them for a reason.

“I think they also have to be reasonable in accepting we’re making space for them and their main duty is to represent England.”

Surrey seamer Liam Plunkett, who has enjoyed a long international career, missed out on a while-ball contract, with England looking to the future.

“Disappointed is an understatement,” Plunkett said on Twitter.

“In terms of numbers, I guess his paces have been down a little bit for some time,” Giles admitted. “But it’s also looking at those younger guys like (Sam) Curran, who is someone who is probably chasing a few of these guys.

“It’s just unlucky. I think it’s time and it’s difficult to be the person who puts that pen through the name.”

PA

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