England’s 34-year-old all-rounder Moeen Ali has announced his retirement from the longest format of the game as he is unwilling to spend long periods away from family in the coming months.
Ali had already informed captain Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood of his decision several months before.
Moeen is currently part of the Chennai Super Kings camp in the UAE, and was in action in the IPL game against Kolkata Knight Riders yesterday.
Ali wants to prolong his career in the shorter formats, and could also continue playing county and franchise cricket.
A handy all-rounder, he was expected to be picked for both the upcoming T20 World Cup and for the Ashes later this year, and it now seems like he will opt out of the latter.
Ali has scored 2,914 runs in 64 Tests at an average of 28.29 with five centuries and picked up 195 wickets with his off-spin bowling at an average of 36.66.
He was on the verge of becoming only the 15th player in Test history to score 3,000 runs and claim 200 wickets when the fifth Test against India was cancelled.
For England, he has batted everywhere from being an opening batsman right down to coming in at No 9.
His highest points as batsman and bowler were the four centuries he scored in 2016 and the 25 wickets he took in four Tests against South Africa in 2017.
The fourth Test against India at the Oval was the World Cup winner’s last Test match.
Record against India
Ali had some crucial contributions for the English Test team against India as well. Most notably in two series—the home series in 2018 and the away series early in 2021.
In 2018, he was brought in for the fourth Test of the five-match series, with England leading 2-1. On a turning pitch at the Ageas Bowl, Ali picked up nine wickets and ground out a solid 170-ball 50, coming in at No 3.
This year, he missed the opening Test having had to quarantine on arriving late after contracting Covid-19. But in the second Test, Ali came roaring back with an eight-wicket haul and whirlwind 18-ball 43 playing at the tail end.
He played in 16 Tests against India—the opponent he has faced the most—scoring two centuries and picking 55 wickets.
Will there be others?
As it turns out, Ali may not be the only player to opt out of the Ashes this year.
The England Cricket Board has controversially cancelled the short visit to Pakistan ahead of the T20 World Cup next month and one of the reasons mentioned was so that players do not suffer burnout.
The Ashes are scheduled to start in the first week of December, immediately after the World Cup, and English players are apparently unhappy with the tight schedule.