Moeen Ali has praised the leadership of Eoin Morgan for providing him with the confidence to rediscover his form with the bat.
Moeen went into the final match of the T20I series against Pakistan having reached double-figures only five times in 19 innings across international formats. But although his 61 at Emirates Old Trafford was not enough to prevent England falling to defeat, it did represent his highest score in any form of international cricket since September 2017, when he made a century against West Indies in Bristol.
Afterwards he admitted he felt he had “let the team down” at times due to his struggles with the bat and expressed gratitude towards Morgan for retaining confidence in him ahead of the game.
“A lot of credit should go to Eoin Morgan,” Moeen said. “He’s given me the responsibility in terms of being the vice-captain and doing team talks here and there. To get that backing from the captain… it’s one of the reasons he’s the best captain I’ve had. He gives me a lot of confidence. I haven’t played well for a good period of time now and for my captain to think highly of me, for me that means a lot.
“He came up to me and said ‘Would you like to give the team-talk?’ It makes me feel responsible and a big part of the team. I have to back what I say as well, so I can’t give the boys inspiration if I can’t do it myself. It makes me feel me quite special among the boys and a big part of this team.
“It’s been very hard. It’s more the mental thing. I probably got a bit comfortable in the side. I feel like sometimes I let the team down and, the harder I tried, the worse it got.”
Due, in part, to Morgan’s intervention, Moeen feels he was able to shift his mental state ahead of the game and approach it as if it was a completely new and fresh experience.
“Peter Moores once said to me: ‘Try to play all your games like they’re your last game or it’s your first game for England’. I want to try to get back to that. It’s almost just pressing the reset button and going again. I’ve got to enjoy playing for England, it’s a special team to be part of and almost appreciate that and make the most of it.
“The outside noise more than anything, you can get sucked into that. Sometimes I think about what other people think of me, but I just thought it’s only a game. I won’t read what you guys write or what everyone else writes. I used to when I first played for England. I got sucked into that stuff but I refreshed my mindset.
“I had to shift my mental state before this game. I had to try and play like it’s my first few games for England again. I had to be like that enthusiastic kid like I was when I first played. Not that I was uncomfortable; just going through the motions I guess.
“Even today was such a battle, like trying to be young kid again, being excited before games. You kind of lose that I guess. I think I did. You can fall into that and I guess I did.”
Despite his struggles, Moeen insisted he was keen to play all formats for England. And he hinted Adil Rashid could also be persuaded to return to Test cricket, 18 months after his previous outing.
“It would be nice to stay in the side and be part of England being successful in the future,” he said. “It’s a big winter so if I’m picked [for the Test team], I would play, that’s for sure. I don’t want to say that I should be in the side because Dom Bess has bowled well, Jack Leach is still ahead of me and Adil Rashid is bowling well and they’re going to speak to him as well. If I get picked then brilliant, but if not then there’s still a lot of cricket to be played.
“Adil hasn’t ruled himself out completely. I’m sure he misses playing red-ball. Test cricket is still a big part of what we want to do and, personally, I’d love to part of it at some stage.”