Moeen Ali admitted that he feels Joe Root is not to blame for England’s Ashes battering at the hands of Australia this winter.
England – led by Root – were once again blown away by their Australian rivals, as the hosts secured a comfortable 4-0 victory for the second successive series down under.
The captain did prove at times a shining light in a nightmare two months for the England camp, but was often left battling out on his own with the bat in hand against an in-form Aussie bowling attack.
Unsurprisingly the Yorkshireman played more cricket than any other England player in 2021, all in the midst of the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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As a result, Root has played in all 17 of his country’s Test matches since the beginning of last year, but Ali believes England have to be careful not to overwork their star man and skipper.
He told the Telegraph: “It’s [Test cricket] completely different to white-ball stress.
“It’s not easy. That’s where Rooty is great – to perform as an individual and captain with bubbles and all that stuff is very, very difficult.
“But you want to be careful. You don’t want to get to a point where Rooty is exhausted and can’t carry on doing it.”
Following the Ashes disappointment, many have questioned whether Root is the right man to take England’s Test team into 2022, with the Yorkshireman being seen as somewhat of a series scapegoat.
Another blamed cause for England’s recent red ball downfalls has also been the ECB’s focus on the shorter format of the game within the country – most notably the introduction of The Hundred competition last summer.
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Ali though believes the blame should lie on either Root or the impact of The Hundred, but instead the dwindling condition of the County Championship.
He continued: “Championship cricket was, in my opinion, going that way anyway because the wickets are poor which then makes the style of cricket not up to international standard. Blaming the Hundred, I don’t think it’s right.
“It is annoying because the Hundred was great – I really enjoyed it. And it felt like we got a new sort of crowd last year which was amazing.”
Ali then went on to use the example of both India and New Zealand whose players seem able thrive in both short and long formats of the game, making the blame put on England’s white ball focus for their Test struggles an invalid one.
“Other countries have players who scored hundreds in Test and one-day cricket,” he added.
“They seem to manage all right, Indian batters, New Zealand batters, they do really well. So yeah, it’s just more getting the pitches better, I guess.
“Playing in conditions that will be a bit more like Test cricket.”