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'I don't want anyone to think I don't love playing for England' - Moeen Ali on Test return
England News

'I don't want anyone to think I don't love playing for England' - Moeen Ali on Test return

Moeen Ali has insisted he is willing to stage a comeback to England's Test side after an extended period of absence from the red-ball unit, during which he considered quitting the conventional five-day format.

Moeen was dropped from England's Test team following his failure in the first Ashes Test last summer when he could manage just four runs and returned figures of three for 172 across the two innings.

The all-rounder then decided to take a break from Test cricket and later lost his red-ball contract with the ECB.

Having now been recalled for the limited-overs series against South Africa, Moeen stated his intentions of donning the Test jersey once again.

He confirmed he will be speaking to head coach Chris Silverwood and Test skipper Joe Root about his chances of securing a spot in England's squad for the Test tour of Sri Lanka next month.

"I don't want anyone to think I don't love playing for England because playing for your country is the greatest thing a cricketer can do," Moeen told Sky Sports in an interview.

"Even in the [one-day] warm-up games here, I was thinking 'I have missed this', which is exactly the feeling I want.

"I didn't feel as valued as much as I felt I should have been, and there were times when I thought I was going to quit playing Test matches, but I spoke to Rooty and he felt I was still a big part of this team.

"I am going to speak to Spoons [Silverwood] and Rooty [about Sri Lanka] but ultimately it is about if I feel I am ready to play again. I don't want people to feel I am picking and choosing. I know I have to make sure I am fresh and mentally ready to go out and perform."

Moeen faces a steep challenge breaking into England's Test line-up in the light of Dom Bess's outstanding performance in South Africa.

"I know if I decide to go to Sri Lanka I might not get in straight away" ©Getty Images

Bess picked up a five-wicket haul in his side's dominant win over the Proteas at Port Elizabeth and seems sure to retain his spot for the Sri Lanka tour. He is likely to be partnered with Jack Leach, who is currently recovering from a long bout of illness, leaving the possibility of Moeen being added to the squad as the third spinner.

"I know even if I decide to go to Sri Lanka I might not get in straight away but I am going to fight for my place. I thought [off-spinner Dom] Bess bowled really well in South Africa but it was almost like, 'yeah, I could to that, I can still do that'," Moeen said.

"The ECB has been really supportive of me. I want to come back a better player and be a part of the whole journey. I don't want to ever go through [how I was feeling] again."

'I felt completely burnt out from all the touring'

Moeen reiterated his decision to step away from the game at the international level was caused by exhaustion from all the touring and the intense scrutiny from media and fans.

"I felt burnt out. It wasn't a mental issue, I just felt completely burnt out, from the travelling, the playing in such big games, the media.

"I needed to step back from cricket, international cricket, in particular, just to get away from the scrutiny and intensity of everything. I love it but it was too much for me.

"I was almost not enjoying playing and that is not a great place to be. I felt it was only going to get worse so I needed to step back."

"It becomes daunting, you are almost afraid to play any shot and you get caught in between. I have to be stronger personally, I know that. I can't blame everyone. But it does show the noise can really affect you," he added.

"Social media is one of the hardest things about playing for England. I've never really cared what people say about me but in the last year or so I started to read quite a bit and that really affected me. I got sucked in, I think a lot of players do.

"People then talk to you like you are really struggling. You just can't get away from the noise, I guess. It 100 per cent affects the players."

He believed this break had provided him with a clear headspace to ponder over his future in the Test arena.

"Being on the road for four or five years, I thought 'I can't do this anymore'. For me to perform for England, I needed to take this break now.

"I talk quite a lot in the changing room, try and joke around, keep the energy going, try to lift guys if they are struggling, even if I am struggling. I wasn't doing that towards the end."