England all-rounder Moeen Ali reckons he could have been as successful as Ben Stokes in Test cricket had he been given enough chances to bat up the order. According to Moeen, he felt he was "a little bit wasted down the order."
On Monday, the 34-year-old announced his retirement from the longest format of the game to concentrate on his white-ball career.
"I want to play for as long as I can and I just want to enjoy my cricket," said Moeen on his Test retirement.
Reflecting on his Test career, he regretted that he couldn’t achieve more due to lack of batting opportunities. Moeen Ali batted at No. 6 in the early part of his Test career before Ben Stokes was moved up the order.
"That century in my second Test [against Sri Lanka at Leeds in 2014] was my best by far. I didn't even look at my bowling at that time. I just thought if I get a few overs, happy days. But my mindset with the bat was different. I was myself as a batter,” Moeen Ali told Cricinfo in an interview.
The all-rounder revealed that he was told by the team management that Stokes would occupy the No. 6 slot after his memorable all-round show against the Kiwis at Lord’s in 2015.
"I just remember when we played New Zealand [at Lord's in 2015] and Ben Stokes had that amazing Test (92, 101 & 3/38). I'd been batting at No. 6 and he was No. 8. I think I'd scored 60-odd in my last Test at No. 6 in Barbados.
"But Alastair Cook said, 'look, I know you're playing well, but we're going to swap things around because we think Stokesy can do more.' It was disappointing. I wouldn't say I knew it was the right decision."
While agreeing that Stokes grabbed his chances and went on to become a wonderful cricketer, Moeen lamented not getting enough opportunities to prove himself.
"Obviously Stokesy turned out to be an amazing player. But I sometimes feel, maybe, that could have been me if I was given a bit more of a run there. I would have loved to bat up the order more. I didn't always have the temperament or the technique but I certainly feel if I'd been given a run somewhere for a while I'd have been fine.
"I do feel like my batting was a little bit wasted. I could have done better than I've done. I feel like I could have scored more Test hundreds, for sure. I could have scored a lot more runs," Moeen Ali said.
The Birmingham-born cricketer, however, also conceded that because he batted lower in the order, he got to play more Tests.
"But maybe it was the reason I played so many Tests. If I'd [just] batted at No. 6 and not done well, I would probably have been dropped.
"So being an all-rounder, being someone who would do whatever was best for the team, is the reason I've played 60 Tests. It's more than I ever thought I'd play," Moeen Ali explained.
The all-rounder’s last Test was The Oval encounter against India earlier this month, in which he scored 35 runs and claimed two wickets.
Moeen Ali’s Test career in numbers
Moeen Ali featured in 64 Tests during his career, scoring 2914 runs at an average of 28.29 with five hundreds and 14 fifties. His best with the bat - 155 not out - came against Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street in May 2016.
He also notched up two Test tons against India - 146 in Chennai (December 2016) and 117 in Rajkot (November 2016). He had batted in the top six on both occasions.
With the ball, the 34-year-old ended up with 195 scalps, which included five five-fors and one 10-wicket match haul.
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He enjoyed bowling against India at home, claiming 37 wickets in 10 Tests at an average of 26.70, which included two five-wicket hauls.