Moeen Ali has expressed his fears for the future of Test cricket, suggesting even the Ashes is losing some of its magic after a “disappointing” public reaction in Australia.
The all-rounder is back on England duty after being rested for the T20 tri-series and is preparing for the one-day battle against New Zealand, which begins in Hamilton on Sunday.
But it was the fate of the red-ball game which occupied his mind as he fielded questions at the team hotel in Auckland.
Questioning the viability, the marketability or long-range prospects of the five-day format is hardly new – the sport has arguably been engaged in an extended existential crisis ever since T20 emerged on the scene – but the old rivalry between England and Australia has always been thought immune.
Moeen had a torrid series from a personal point of view as the tourists were outclassed 4-0, but he revealed the entire occasion had failed to live up to the hype.
“It’s been a worry for a while but Australia really opened my eyes. I found it disappointing,” he said of his first Test tour Down Under. “I feared (for the future) in the Ashes, actually. The crowds were disappointing in general.
“There were a couple of days – Boxing Day, the first day of the series – but even when they won the Ashes there weren’t that many people celebrating.
“That’s when I thought, ‘Actually, we’re struggling a bit’. I think the Big Bash had bigger crowds than the Ashes. That’s great for T20 but for Test matches it’s a massive worry.”
New Zealand have called up Ish Sodhi as extra spin-bowling cover in a 14-man squad for their first two one-day internationals.
New Zealand squad (for first two ODIs v England): K Williamson (capt), T Astle, T Boult, L Ferguson, C de Grandhomme, M Guptill, M Henry, T Latham (wkt), C Munro, H Nicholls, M Santner, I Sodhi, T Southee, R Taylor.