England coach Chris Silverwood said team management made the decision to allow Moeen Ali to leave the tour of India, apologising for the way his departure was handled.
England captain Joe Root said Tuesday that Moeen had “chosen to go home” after the second Test in Chennai when in fact he had taken advantage of a break proposed by team management in line with a rotation policy.
Off-spinner Moeen, in his first Test appearance in 18 months, took eight wickets and top-scored for England in a heavy 317-run defeat, which left the four-match series tied at 1-1.
Silverwood, in a conference call with British-based reporters, said Wednesday: “First of all we’re sorry if the impression we gave yesterday was that Moeen is being treated different to other people.
“He isn’t, I can guarantee you of that. The decision was ours, as it was with Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood. We’re happy to own that decision.”
But the former England paceman did confirm that Moeen, who had to self-isolate last month after testing positive for the coronavirus in Sri Lanka, had been asked if he would be prepared to stay on.
It appears the all-rounder decided to stick to the original plan.
“The question was posed to him,” Silverwood explained. “He was asked, but ultimately we felt it was the right decision for him to go home.
“It was a unique situation with Moeen. He’d spent so long in isolation, getting Covid out in Sri Lanka, and with how he just broke back into the team.
“We touched base with Mo last night, as did Joe. He’s fine, he understands that we’ve got his best interests at heart.”
While Test skipper Root is having to cope with rotation-enforced changes, limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan is set to lead a full-strength squad for the subsequent Twenty20 series in India.
Those matches should prove useful to reigning 50-over world champions England ahead of a T20 World Cup in India later this year.
England could also be missing first-choice players for a home two-Test series against New Zealand in June because of their Indian Premier League commitments.
But Silverwood said equal weight was given to Tests and T20 cricket as England tried to juggle a heavy schedule.
After the T20 Word Cup, Root’s team head to Australia, seeking to regain the Ashes.
“We know we have a great opportunity to have a bit of a dry run with the T20 World Cup being in India but equally we have to respect that to get people to the T20 World Cup and the Ashes fresh and on top form, we have to look after them,” said Silverwood. “It is the world we are living in.
“We want to be the number one Test nation and have success in white-ball cricket. We’re determined to make it happen.”
IPL a priority?
Silverwood however admitted that it was difficult to tell players not to play IPL even as his team’s much-debated rotation policy in Test matches came under scanner after their humbling 317-run defeat against India in the second Test.
“It is very difficult to say to the players that no you can’t play IPL. You can’t say no if you just see the numbers. IPL is a marquee cricket event in T20 world and so it’s very difficult,” Silverwood said.
Stokes and Jofra Archer didn’t come to Sri Lanka while Buttler and Ali went back home after the first and second Test respectively. Now Bairstow and Mark Wood have joined the team while Archer might return home during white-ball leg with Buttler re-joining.
When he was specifically asked if playing IPL became a priority as a lot of these players opted out of Big Bash League in Australia but now are skipping Test matches as a part of the rotation policy.
“I don’t think it’s an issue because players are playing fantastic high level of T20 cricket which can only benefit us really. Moving forward it benefits the player. Obviously, players make their own minds up about competitions (BBL, CPL, IPL) they go in but we benefit from their playing.”
Silverwood, a fast bowler during his playing days accepted that he has made “peace with it”.
“I am totally at peace with it. Just to reiterate Test cricket remains the priority at least to me.”
While the likes of Stokes, Archer, Chirs Woakes have all been retained by their franchises, the likes of Moeen Ali, Dawid Malan along with 15 others will go under the hammer.
Is he sad that there are talks that players could miss New Zealand Test matches in order to fulfil IPL knock-out commitments?
“One of the things that I feel is it gives opportunity to people. It’s exciting for me to see people make debuts, see people do well. As I said, I see the exciting side about it.” So will he pray that Mark Wood or Moeen Ali don’t get deals at IPL auctions tomorrow?
“No, I want them to do well, supportive of the decision they make really. If they are picked, it will be brilliant and I can only wish that they do well, get knowledge of conditions and improve as players,” he said.
(With PTI and AFP inputs)