Ashley Giles has left the door open for Moeen Ali to return to the England Test team despite the all-rounder asking for a break from red-ball cricket.
The 32-year-old was dropped after the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston following a poor display and has only been handed a central contract in white-ball cricket.
Giles, managing director of the England men’s team, believes some time away could be exactly what Moeen needs to rediscover his best form in the longer format of the game.
“Moeen has actually asked me if he could just take a step back from red-ball cricket, which is fine. He’s not retiring, but he just wants a little bit of a break from Test cricket,” Giles said.
“I think for all the guys, not just Moeen, it’s been a really challenging summer. A World Cup, and Ashes back-to-back has had a massive effect on many of these guys psychologically as much as physically.
“Some of those guys are still carrying that and part of that will be Moeen. His experience in the first Test wasn’t a great one, but that’s cricket.
“He has been a great servant to this team and that’s why I encouraged him to leave that option open to come back. He might just need to go away and freshen up.”
Moeen will not feature for England in the two-Test series in New Zealand later this year and it is a similar story for Adil Rashid – another to lose his central Test contract.
Giles added: “I think Rash has got some stuff to think about as well and with him, some of that is physical. He’s had this ongoing shoulder issue.
“Test cricket is much more demanding and I think that will be on his mind, but for now, he’s available across all formats until he tells me otherwise.”
The former England spinner continued: “If we started the summer and you’d offered us a World Cup win and a drawn Ashes series, we probably would have taken it.
Selectors have awarded 10 Test contracts and 12 White Ball contracts— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 20, 2019
“We’re greedy. We always want to win the Ashes, but the short gap between World Cup and Ashes was also a bit of a strange one for some of them coming out of such an emotional high and something that mentally drained them so much.”
Given the amount of cricket played this summer, England are set to rest a number of key players for the five Twenty20s in New Zealand.
Test captain Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler could all miss out, although Giles refused to confirm which players would get some time off.
Giles added: “I’m not going to name names, but we need to look after these guys. We are in a Twenty20 World Cup cycle.
“Most of these guys going to play in the Indian Premier League and (New Zealand) is a chance for us to look at some of the young guns who have had success in the T20 Blast and some of the franchise tournaments.”
Quizzed on the workload of England’s players and whether they should play in the IPL, Giles pointed out the competition played a part in the World Cup win, but insisted the main focus will be on representing their country.
“The IPL’s here to stay and it’s going to be very difficult for us to stop players going there without risking losing them, so we’ve got to accept that,” he said.
“But then we have to manage our players outside that. I know they are England players and essentially contracted, but that window is left open for them for a reason.
“I think they also have to be reasonable in accepting we’re making space for them and their main duty is to represent England.”
Surrey seamer Liam Plunkett, who has enjoyed a long international career, missed out on a while-ball contract, with England looking to the future.
“Disappointed is an understatement,” Plunkett said on Twitter.
“In terms of numbers, I guess his paces have been down a little bit for some time,” Giles admitted. “But it’s also looking at those younger guys like (Sam) Curran, who is someone who is probably chasing a few of these guys.
“It’s just unlucky. I think it’s time and it’s difficult to be the person who puts that pen through the name.”
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Pakistan chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq has named a 16-man squad led by skipper Sarfraz Ahmed for the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka.
Abid Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Usman Shinwari, Mohammad Nawaz and Mohammad Rizwan were handed recalls to the side even as pacers Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi missed out due to injury troubles.
Hasan Ali is reportedly suffering from a back spasm and the right-armed pacer will undergo rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore.
“After thorough discussions with the members of the selection committee and meticulous planning, I feel we have put together the best possible squad,” Misbah said in a statement.
“These are the only 50-over matches we play this season and we want to make their optimum use. Over the course of my cricketing career, I have realised there are no easy games and there are no easy opponents in cricket.
“But, a season-opening series is crucial for setting the tone. It is extremely important that we produce solid performances and have favourable results as it will build the confidence of our players and help in carrying the momentum Down Under.”
It will be the first assignment for Misbah since taking over as the coach and selector of the Pakistan in the aftermath of the 2019 World Cup in England. The former Pakistan skipper has justified the ODI recalls handed out to five players including Iftikhar Ahmed.
“The five boys, who have been recalled, were straightforward selections. Iftikhar Ahmed is a batsman who can also bowl off-spin and provides the captain with necessary bowling depth as Sri Lanka boasts a few left-handers in their ranks,” he said.
“Mohammad Nawaz has been performing well in domestic matches. Despite their strong performances, Moahmmad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari and Abid Ali were unlucky to miss out the World Cup squad.
“This is, however, a perfect opportunity for these players to prove their mettle in international cricket and cement their place in the one-day side.”
Pakistan are slated to play three ODIs and as many T20Is against Sri Lanka with the squad for the latter set to be announced in due time. The ODI-leg will be held in Karachi with the first of the three clashes set to take place on September 27.
PAKISTAN 16-MAN ODI SQUAD
Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Babar Azam (vice-captain), Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz.
Newly appointed Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis is hoping that his partnership with Misbah-ul-Haq will turn out be a fruitful one for the men’s team.
Waqar is now undertaking his fifth coaching stint with the Pakistan team with his latest innings coming under Misbah who has been handed the dual responsibilities of head coach as well as chief selector.
The duo has worked together in the past as well with Waqar’s two head coach stints with the Pakistan team coinciding with Misbah’s captaincy tenure.
“I think I have a very good chemistry with Misbah, I’ve got a very good understanding with him and it will help in the future,” Waqar was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has given Misbah an opportunity and it’s our responsibility to support and back him because he’s a very honest man and passionate about the game.
“My role is very simple and well-defined. I had done both the roles as a head coach and a bowling coach so I have an idea. The best thing is that I know about Misbah’s mindset because whatever coaching I had done was with Misbah as the captain.”
The first assignment for the coaching duo will be Sri Lanka’s upcoming tour of Pakistan which is slated to get underway on September 27. The touring Sri Lankan team will first take on the hosts in a three-match ODI series at Karachi before the two teams move on to Lahore for the T20I-leg.
The tour had been thrown into doubt earlier with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) forced to ‘reassess’ the security conditions after a tip-off for a potential terror threat. However, those fears have now been allayed with SLC confirming that the tour will go ahead as planned after receiving assurances from the Pakistan government.
Waqar believes that Sri Lanka’s visit to the country will be a massive boost to the return of international cricket to Pakistan.
“The best thing is Sri Lanka is coming, it’s a plus for Pakistan, and other teams should also come. Our short-term goal is that we should win matches early on and build the confidence,” he stated.
Waqar and Misbah are currently overseeing a training camp of 20 probables at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore for the upcoming Sri Lanka clashes before the team moves on to Karachi for the first ODI on September 27.