He says England can now look to launch another white-ball revolution like after their disappointing 2015 World Cup
After England’s team of thirty-somethings were finally eliminated from the World Cup, the oldest man in their squad recognised the finality of this defeat to Australia, their fifth in a row and their sixth in seven games. “Everything good comes to an end,” Moeen Ali said. “Maybe the writing was on the wall, and we just didn’t see it as players.”
This dismal title defence will prompt an inevitable overhaul in England’s ODI set-up. The side that lost by 33 runs in Ahmedabad on Saturday contained eight members of their victorious 2019 squad; the exceptions were 36-year-old Dawid Malan, the retiring David Willey and Liam Livingstone, who is averaging 10 in the World Cup.
Unlike eight years ago, when England’s group-stage exit at the 2015 World Cup led to a complete revamp of their limited-overs set-up, there is plenty of talent waiting for an opportunity. The issue is that 11 of the 15 players at this tournament are a month into two or three-year contracts, so a complete refresh may not be straightforward.
For once, England’s schedule may work in their favour. They always planned to take a second-string ODI squad for their three-match series against West Indies next month, and then their focus turns to the T20 World Cup next June. They have a nine-month break between ODIs before hosting Australia in late September 2024.
But the pressing issues are whether they will give Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott the opportunity to defend the T20 title they won as captain and coach in Australia last year – and if so, how they will freshen up their squad to avoid a repeat of the debacle that has played out in slow motion over the last month in India.
“I just think everything good comes to an end at some point. It’s very exciting, because going forward we’ve got some really good players we know will come back into the squad with that fearless [style]. That start we had in 2015 could start again.”
Ben Stokes will have knee surgery when he returns home and did not commit to making himself available for the T20 World Cup when asked on Friday. Jonny Bairstow has been short of runs across white-ball cricket over the last three months, while Malan’s T20 numbers have dipped.
Moeen, who is on a one-year central contract, plans to speak to England’s coach and captain at the end of this World Cup to discuss his future. He is their vice-captain in white-ball cricket but has only played in four matches at this World Cup, has gone wicketless across 24.2 overs and, even after his fluent 42 against Australia, has only made 83 runs.
“I’m obviously going to speak to Jos and Motty and see what they want from me, whether they want me around or whatever,” Moeen said. “I don’t know. If they say, ‘look we’re going to go with younger players and start again’ then I’m more than happy. I get it, I understand… everything good comes to an end at some point.”
Rob Key, England’s managing director of men’s cricket, will return to India this week and join the squad in Kolkata ahead of their final group fixture against Pakistan on Saturday. He will have to make some difficult decisions over players’ futures – and Moeen admitted that, in Key’s position, he would rip things up and start again.
Moeen said that he expects the core of the T20 side to remain the same ahead of next year’s World Cup, but said of the ODI set-up: “If I was in charge, I’d play the younger guys. I’d just start again and I’m sure they’re going to do that. It’s common sense, more than anything. You want that fearless approach again, and it’s a great time to start again.
“Maybe the writing was on the wall and we just didn’t see it as players because we thought we’d be performing well. But I just think everything good comes to an end at some point. It’s very exciting, because going forward we’ve got some really good players we know will come back into the squad with that fearless [style]. That start we had in 2015 could start again.”
Moeen delivered another blunt assessment of England’s performance, saying that they have “been rubbish throughout: batting, bowling and fielding”. But they face two more significant games against Netherlands and Pakistan, needing at least one win and quite possibly two in order to qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy.
“We’ve got to turn up properly as players,” Moeen said. “They are two massive games coming up. I know how important the Champions Trophy is in terms of experience at a world event because then for the World Cup, you get that experience – especially with, potentially, younger players coming in. It’s very important we make sure we qualify.”