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'Not ideal to play in an empty stadium' - Moeen Ali
Cricket Behind Closed Doors

'Not ideal to play in an empty stadium' - Moeen Ali

Moeen Ali is not a huge fan of playing cricket behind closed doors as he likened such energy-sapping contests in the absence of spectators to "warm-up games".

Moeen, a member of England's World Cup-winning squad last year, believes competing amidst empty stands tends to be a dull experience.

He referred to his spell with Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League, where he was forced to play behind closed doors owing to the coronavirus pandemic for a couple of games before the tournament was postponed indefinitely.

"We played in the PSL the last two or three games with no one in the crowd and it was so bad," he told reporters via a video call.

"It's different and it's not quite the same. It felt like those warm-up games you play before a big series.

"It's not ideal. Not everybody wants to play in an empty stadium. But it will probably have to be the case for a while."

The virus-induced health crisis has caused boards to prioritise the safety of players and the general public before organising matches.

With top-flight cricket in England and Wales having already been delayed to July 1, authorities are considering the resumption of the sport without fans to meet broadcasting requirements and avoid further financial losses.

In addition to the challenges of recommencing the game, Moeen talked about the mental toll the pandemic has taken on players. He feared it would be harder for the professional cricketers to go about their business in the field unaffected by the happenings around them.

"With so many people dying around the world -- and in this country in particular -- it's difficult for the players to really switch on," he explained.

"At the moment it's too early. Hopefully, the sport will be back on soon but when the time is right, everyone is safe and the players don't feel like they're going out to play and they might get it."

'Available for a fresh start in Test cricket'

Meanwhile, Moeen expressed his readiness to don the white jersey once again for England after taking a break from the conventional red-ball format of the game.

The off-spinner chose to withdraw from England's Test tours of New Zealand and South Africa following his abysmal outing in the Ashes last summer.

His lean run in Tests and the exhausting international calendar were the chief reasons behind his self-imposed exile.

However, he is now keen to fight for a spot in the Joe Root-led Test XI as he faces competition from fellow spinners Jack Leach and Dom Bess.

"For sure if I got the call tomorrow to play I would definitely put my hand up," Moeen said.

"I will be available to play any cricket now. I still back myself to get back into the side at some stage."

The 32-year-old had earlier complained about receiving extensive and needless flak for England's defeats. He promised to have reinvented his mindset and was far more positive to return to Test duty.

"I absolutely love Test cricket and I just almost had a fresh start and that's hopefully what has happened over the last year or so, it's probably made me a better bowler. It's put me in a better mindset.

"I don't want to keep going on about it now, I just want to move forward and try to enjoy my cricket again."