England’s controversial rotation policy is in the spotlight again after it was announced Moeen Ali would leave the tour of India following Tuesday’s crushing 317-run loss in the second Test at Chennai.
Off-spinner Moeen was one of England’s best players as India levelled the four-match series at 1-1. He took eight wickets, including the prize scalp of India captain Virat Kohli for a first-innings duck, and top-scored with 43 in England’s second innings.
England captain Joe Root, in a careless choice of words, said Tuesday that Moeen had “chosen to go home” when in fact he had taken advantage of a break proposed by team management. Later Joe Root apologised for comments made about Moeen Ali.
“Moeen has chosen to go home,” Root said at the time. “It’s obviously been a very tricky tour for him. As mentioned at the start, if players feel like they need to get out of the bubble, then that’s been an option. With Moeen it wasn’t more asking if he wanted to stay, it was a decision he had chosen.”
In truth, As a multi-format player, Moeen is the latest to take time out of the three-month subcontinental tour as part of England’s rest and rotation policy that has led Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran to miss Test matches in order to stave of so-called “bubble fatigue”.
Root’s comments sparked something of a backlash across the media. Although some defended Moeen, others latched onto the words to express their dissatisfaction on the incorrect assumption that he had left the tour on something of a whim, having been recalled to the Test team just a week previously.
Joe Root has spoken to Moeen Ali privately and acknowledged his mistake after leaving the all-rounder open to criticism from supporters by calling his pre-agreed exit from India something he had “chosen” to do.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan sympathised with Moeen by writing in his Daily Telegraph column: “I do not like the inference from England that he has ‘chosen’ to miss the last two Tests. I did not hear that being said when Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow went home.”
Moeen will be back for next month’s five-match Twenty20 series, with the white-ball captain, Eoin Morgan, set to be handed a full-strength squad by the selectors in order to tune up for the T20 World Cup in India later in the year.
Twenty20 matches are increasingly important for England cricketers, including Moeen, looking to secure lucrative Indian Premier League contracts, with this year’s player auction set to take place on Thursday.