Moeen Ali has suggested the public health situation in the UK would have to “get drastically better” before players would consider a return to cricket.
While Moeen accepted that both players and the wider public want a return to action as soon as possible, he believes it “would be very difficult to get players to play [while] things are not safe”.
At present, the ECB have announced there will be no professional cricket before July 1 as they attempt to deal with the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. But while they continue to look into the feasibility of hosting games in bio-secure environments, there is widespread expectation that further delays to the season look likely. Moeen, at least, does not envisage a swift return and has already called for the launch of the Hundred to be delayed a year.
“Of course we want – everyone wants us – to be playing cricket but if things are not safe it would be very difficult to get players to play,” Moeen said.
“At the moment it’s too early. 500 people dying [a day] is still a big number. That would have to get drastically better for players to consider playing.
“There’s still some time to go. In my mind there’s probably three or four weeks – maybe a couple of months – that it would take for us to start training.
“The ECB are very open with us and we’re having a lot of dialogue. Hopefully sport will be back on soon but when the time is right, everyone is safe and the players don’t feel like they’re going out to play and they might get it. With so many people dying around the world – and in this country in particular – it’s difficult for the players to really switch on.”
Moeen also expressed reservations about playing behind closed doors, but accepted it will “probably have to be the case for a while.”
“We played the last two or three games in the PSL with no-one in the crowd and it was so bad,” Moeen said. “It’s different and it’s not quite the same. It was actually very difficult to play in an empty stadium.
“If was very difficult to get yourself up for the game. I don’t know what it would be like in an international game but it was so different. It felt like those warm-up games you play before a big series. It’s not ideal, but it will probably have to be the case for a while.”
In the longer term, however, Moeen is now committed to try to fight for a recall to England’s Test side and says a chance to “put things right” in an away Ashes series remains a motivation. Moeen endured a tough Ashes tour in 2017-18 – he averaged 19.88 with the bat and 115 with the ball – and, having subsequently taken a break from the Test game, knows there are now several people ahead of him in selection terms.
“In the back of my mind it’s still there,” he said. “I would want to go out and put things right if I was going to play Test cricket in the Ashes. I definitely learned a lot from last time going out there. The type of bowling required out there was different to how I was bowling at the time. It is in the back of my mind but it is still a long way away. And things could change drastically for that as well.
“I still back myself to get back into the side and some stage. It’s obviously worked out that no games were played in Sri Lanka and I know the guys selected for that tour are ahead of me. The door is still open to perform and get back in.”