“I had reached a point where I had almost lost interest in cricket… I just needed that time off to work on my game,” said Moeen Khan, pictured here during a recent Pakistan Super League match. (Photo: Arif Ali/AFP via Getty Images)
Eastern Eye Staff
MOEEN ALI says the break from Test cricket has helped him recharge his batteries, and he’s “ready to come back stronger”.
Speaking to Sky Sports on the sidelines of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), the English all-rounder said it was his “own decision to not make myself available” for the England Test squad, as he had been “mentally tired”.
He added that he “really enjoyed the break” from red-ball cricket and “playing in a few leagues around the world”.
Ali, who played for Multan Sultans in the PSL, said the “whole experience [PSL] has just been amazing”, despite the tournament being postponed on Tuesday (17), ahead of the semi-finals and final due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The standard of cricket is very high, and it tests you as a cricketer, which is exactly what you need,” he said.
“The crowds have been magnificent and there’s not many better things for a cricketer than to be playing in front of full houses.
“While the current restrictions imposed due to coronavirus are understandable, it’s been great the tournament has been held entirely in Pakistan.”
Ali said it was “very heart-warming and touching” that “wherever you go in Pakistan, people are thanking us for coming here”.
“Obviously, the fans want results, but for Pakistan cricket and the fans it’s not all about the results, it’s more about having the entire PSL being played in Pakistan,” he noted.
Ali, who was among 15 English players in the PSL, believed “there will definitely be talks between the ECB and the PCB about England touring Pakistan”.
It would be “amazing to see international cricket return to Pakistan”, he added.
“It’s better for the game of cricket in Pakistan and better for the world of cricket that international cricket is played regularly in Pakistan,” he said.
On his own ups and downs in international cricket, Ali said “the pressure had become… a bit too much”.
Ali had recently opted out of the Sri Lanka-bound Test team to “give myself some extra time”. (The Sri Lankan tour was called off later due to the coronavirus threat.)
“I needed to recharge my batteries and get my hunger back for the game,” he said.
“I had reached a point where I had almost lost interest in cricket, the playing, the warming-up… it was just becoming something I was doing every day and I just needed that time off to work on my game.”
Ali said England captain Joe Root and coach Chris Silverwood were “very understanding”, as they encouraged him to make a comeback when “fully ready”.
“You cannot play Test cricket when you are mentally tired, which I was,” said Ali.
Even as he acknowledged that Test cricket was “the highest form of the game”, Ali admitted there was “temptation of playing just white-ball cricket”.
“Playing in the white-ball format for England has never been an issue… it was great to be back amongst the boys again and obviously helped in getting ready for the Twenty20 World Cup,” he said, on the recent English tour of South Africa.
“It’s tough for the modern-day cricketer to play in all formats,” he said.
While one could play “a lot of cricket and a lot of games for your country”, Ali observed, there was “the danger of burn-out and losing interest”.
Ali, who has played 190 matches for England since his debut in 2014, termed the panning he received for the lean patches he had gone through as “unfair” and “very harsh”, adding that he had been made “the scapegoat a few times”.
The player, however, said one had to “move on” in such difficult phases, adding that he was “back enjoying playing cricket again”.