Moeen Ali, the England all-rounder, conceded his “batting confidence is at its lowest”, but added that being shuffled up and down the order throughout his career hasn’t helped.
Ali insisted he was happy with how he was bowling, even as he agreed that his batting has caused him a lot of consternation. “Negative comments”, he said, have played on his mind.
“I have accepted this for a while, the ball has been coming out nicely and in Test cricket the wickets have followed,” he wrote in his column in The Guardian. “But I would be lying if I thought the attention was on this, because even though I am not on social media these days, I am aware of the criticism of my batting in recent times.
“His floundering with the bat and England’s long-form struggles in general have masked a fact which grows ever more evident with each passing game. Moeen Ali is now one of the best Test spinners in the world.”@Ben_Wisden on the enigma that is Moeen Ali.https://t.co/R5ldLAHlYT
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 29, 2019
“I have always been a player whose form goes up and down, but at the moment I feel my batting confidence is at its lowest. Negative comments can affect you and they probably have. I know I play some horrendous shots at times but, when I do, I feel I attract more stick for it than others.”
In the last year, Ali has scored just 283 runs in 17 Test innings. There have been two half-centuries – against India at The Oval last year, and earlier this year against West Indies – but they have been interspersed with four ducks, making for a paltry average of 16.64. The problem has extended to ODIs as well, with Ali averaging 18.64 in 20 innings, with a high score of 46 against Pakistan in Bristol, in the series before the World Cup.
Ali is a versatile batsman, but that has meant he has been used as a floater up and down the order, and despite this being his sixth year in international cricket, there is still no real clarity on what his best position is.
“I have batted everywhere in the England team, and it has probably caught up with me,” he wrote. “It’s not easy for a player who considers him or herself to be a proper batter to then adjust down the order. Put anyone there and the scores won’t necessarily come. You can lose a bit of love for it, too.”
So where does that leave him for the Ashes? Ali spoke to his “most trusted advisers” and has decided to hit the reset button. “After the Ireland Test, I decided to consult some of my most trusted advisers: my dad, Munir, my brother, Kadeer, and Paul Farbrace, who was the England assistant coach up until recently,” he revealed.
“I have had a little reset and the plan is to go out there and simply enjoy my batting again – to not get consumed by negative thoughts and try to play with more freedom than I have. The fact is, my bowling is why I am in the Test team right now and on form, rightly so. Runs are important, don’t get me wrong, but it will be wickets that I will be judged on.”
The first Ashes Test begins on Thursday, August 1, in Edgbaston.