Ali desperate to be part of 'England side with chance to be best ever'

Moeen Ali desperate for role in ‘England side with chance to be best ever’ as he targets fresh start in South Africa ODI series after pain of being dropped for Ashes and World Cup

  • Moeen Ali admits he lost motivation when he lost place in England’s Test side 
  • He was also dropped from World Cup-winning team in middle of tournament 
  • But all-rounder is starting afresh and will empty the tank in years he has left 
  • ‘There is so much cricket to play and so much success to have’, he said 

Moeen Ali knows the clock is ticking on his hopes of ever recapturing the star quality that made him one of England’s most important players.

It was not long ago Moeen was an automatic pick across all formats but he has travelled to South Africa for six white-ball matches knowing he is at a pivotal stage in an international career that has spluttered almost to a halt over the last 18 months.

Now Moeen is banking on a return of the hunger he admits he lost when his Test place crashed on the rocks of an Australian onslaught and he even slipped out of England’s 50-over team in the middle of their triumphant World Cup campaign.

Moeen Ali feels rejuvenated and is going to attack the next couple of years with full motivation

‘That hunger has not been there in the last year or so,’ admitted Moeen ahead of England’s first training session at Newlands on Tuesday. ‘There have been glimpses but I know deep down I haven’t done well over a period of time.

‘The support I’ve had from everyone shows I do still have a big part to play in this side and it’s my job now to go out and perform. I need to get into a good mental space, which I’ve been working on for the last few months. It’s been difficult but it’s about clearing everything out and starting afresh.’

The key now is whether Moeen is able to start afresh at 33 and the all-rounder confirmed he has brought an end to the Test exile he imposed on himself after losing his place during the last Ashes and wants to have one last crack at the Aussies next winter.

‘I know I haven’t got that long left in international cricket,’ he said. ‘But I will give my all over the next couple of years. There is so much cricket to play and so much success to have. There is an opportunity for us to become one of the greatest ever England sides and I want to be a part of that.

There have been tough times for the all-rounder but he is determined to move on from them

‘I think I dwelt too long on being dropped during the World Cup and the Ashes. It’s about moving forward now. It’s about being smarter and working harder. There’s so much ahead with the T20 World Cups, the Ashes and the next 50-over World Cup. They are all targets and I will do everything I can to reach them.’

Another big target for Moeen emerged on Tuesday when England confirmed they will return to Pakistan for the first time in 16 years when they play two Twenty20 internationals in Karachi next October en route to the first of those T20 World Cups in India.

‘It’s a massive moment for cricket,’ said Moeen, who last summer became the first British Asian to captain England since Nasser Hussain in 2003. ‘It was an amazing experience to play in the PSL and we can’t wait to go back as an England team. It’s right that we should go there after such a long time.’

Ali is looking forward to playing in front of fans again and has realised how much he’s missed it

Moeen also welcomed Tuesday’s publication of next summer’s international fixture list which sees the ECB hoping to welcome back full houses to nine venues for games against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India.

‘It would be huge to play in front of crowds again,’ he said. ‘When they are not there you realise how much you miss them and the extra motivation they give you. We are looking forward to welcoming the supporters back.’

The spectre of racism in cricket was again raised this week when the complete lack of any first-class umpires from a BAME background in the English game was highlighted.

Moeen is convinced action is being taken. ‘The ECB have done a review and we’ll see what comes of it,’ he added. ‘Things are improving in all aspects of the game and, moving forward, I think a lot is going to be done to put these issues right.’

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