England coach Chris Silverwood confirmed the decision to rest all-rounder Moeen Ali for the last two Tests against India was made by the team management. He also offered an apology following the miscommunication over Moeen Ali's exit.
The all-rounder was not retained for the remainder of the India Tests despite claiming eight wickets in Chennai and scoring 43 from 18 in England’s second innings.
There was a slight controversy when skipper Joe Root said at the post-match conference that Moeen Ali had “chosen” to go home. The skipper has since apologized to the all-rounder.
Speaking at a virtual press conference, Silverwood cleared the air over Moeen Ali’s unavailability. He said:
"First of all, we're sorry the impression we gave yesterday was Moeen's been treated differently to other people."
The coach clarified the situation and said:
"The decision to send Moeen (Ali) back was ours as was the case with Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Jonny Bairstow. We are happy with our decision. It was a unique situation with Moeen, he spent so much time in isolation, he got Covid in Sri Lanka and he broke into the team just now. Ultimately, we felt it was the right decision for him to go back home.”
When asked how Moeen Ali reacted to the decision, the coach said the senior cricketer understood the situation. He also revealed that Root had spoken to the all-rounder about the same. Silverwood added:
“He was fine, Joe and I spoke to him yesterday Moeen understands we have his best interests in our hearts and we are trying our best to look out for all our players. We are continuing to build a group of players who can play at any point in time. This is the life we are living in at the moment, we have to prioritise looking after our players. We are doing our best to make that happen, being locked up in bubbles is difficult and we need to respect that people need to see their families.”
Moeen Ali case brings England’s rotation policy back into focus
While Moeen Ali heads home, Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood have been included in the 17-man squad for the third Test after being rested for the first two games. Jos Buttler was replaced by Ben Foakes after the first Test.
England’s rotation policy has found its critics in former cricketers like Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan. However, Silverwood defended the move, saying they need to figure out how to make it work best. He stated:
“People do need to see their families, we are trying to make life for our players as comfortable as possible. We just need to make it work, people need to spend some time with their families. We prioritise Tests and T20s equally, T20 World Cup is here in India, but we need to make sure that everyone stays in top form, and in order to do that, we need to rotate players and look after them. I can guarantee you we are not prioritising anything above Test cricket.”
With the four-match series tied 1-1, India and England will lock horns in the pink-ball Test in Ahmedabad, starting February 24.