Moeen Ali believes England should emerge from the group of aging world champions after a stagnant season in India this year.
In a typically candid assessment of the title defense ended by Saturday’s 33-run defeat to Australia in Ahmedabad, the 36-year-old vice-captain accepts that fresh blood will soon have to flow into a team of over 30 players.
“All good things come to an end,” said Moeen, who was part of the squad that lifted the trophy in 2019 and then won the T20 World Cup last year. “Maybe the signs were irrefutable and we just didn’t recognize it as players because we thought we would do well.
“I think if I were in charge I would play against the younger guys (after this tournament). I would just start over and I’m sure they will. It’s common sense more than anything else. You want that fearless approach again.”
Since this is English cricket, not everything is so simple. There’s the T20 World Cup defense next June in the Caribbean and the USA, while all but David Willey in the current 50-over squad in India were recently given new central contracts by team director Rob Key.
There is also the question of whether Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott, captain and head coach, should lead a possible overhaul of the white-ball setup after suffering six defeats in seven group games, including five straight defeats for the first time since a bilateral 5-0 series defeat in India in 2011.
Buttler in particular has lost form with the bat, his average of 15.4 in the tournament representing an alarming decline for a player widely regarded as one of England’s best 50-over players of all time. The 33-year-old insists this isn’t about leadership, but Key will have to assess both roles objectively when he sits down to reflect on the Tour.
Moeen said: “It’s not just (Buttler), it affects everyone. There is no one who has really done well in batting except Dawid Malan who is one hundred and fifty years old. I’m sure everyone looks at their own performance and is very disappointed with it.”
Asked if this was worse than the 2015 World Cup – which sparked the whirlwind run that led to the title four years later – Moeen replied: “I think in 2015 we didn’t expect to achieve much, but at We expected a better performance at this World Cup.” Position than we are now. We were just rubbish – batting, bowling and fielding. We got a little better in our bowling, but we obviously lacked runs in our batting. It hurts.”
In the short term, England, in 10th place, must weigh up giving tournament experience to their younger replacements – Harry Brook, Gus Atkinson, Brydon Carse and Sam Curran – against the need to still face the Netherlands and Pakistan in the remaining two games hit. To qualify for the Champions Trophy in early 2025, a place in the top eight is required.
The precocious Brook will surely have to return when England face the Netherlands in Pune on Wednesday, and Liam Livingstone is on the verge of a demotion after failing to crack the ODI format (or justify his new two-year contract). Mark Wood, who is suffering from knee pain, could also free up a place for Atkinson, while Willey’s impending retirement from international cricket could see Englan cancel his departure and recall fellow left-winger Curran.
Immediately following the World Cup will be a white-ball tour of the Caribbean in December – three ODIs and five Twenty20s – and the opportunity to explore further options. But while Moeen effectively accepts that his and a number of other 50-over careers will soon end, he believes next year’s T20 World Cup defense will still be considered separately.
The all-rounder, who is himself starting a new one-year contract, said: “T20 is a different format, a different style of cricket and we have played a lot over the years.” But of course they will pick the best players they believe they are competitive and are the best team in each case.”
Moeen also insists that qualifying for the Champions Trophy is hugely important for the next generation of players, with the 2017 edition of the seemingly indestructible TV competition – and reaching the semi-finals – being an important preparation for the team that became World Cup winners in 2017 2019.
Should England miss out, the West Indies, who are absent from this World Cup and therefore unable to attend, are keen to host them for a Test series in the Caribbean at the same time. This is currently missing from the future tour program, which runs until the end of 2027, although visits to England represent a valuable source of income for Cricket West Indies and the region as a whole.