‘I was a made a scapegoat for England’s Test defeats,’ says Moeen Ali

Moeen Ali has claimed he was made a scapegoat for England’s Test failings when he was in the side and he is not ready to make his return after taking a break from cricket’s long form.

The all-rounder stepped away from the red-ball game following England’s decision not to renew his central contract last September and has since taken on white-ball commitments around the world. That includes signing a contract to play in the Pakistan Super League, a tournament that overlaps with England’s two-Test series in Sri Lanka in March.

Moeen said he will decide whether to make himself available for the series during the white-ball leg of the tour of South Africa and, expanding on his column for the Guardian last month, the 32-year-old on Thursday said his decision to take a break from red-ball cricket was driven by burnout and having the finger of blame regularly pointed in his direction.

“A lot of the time if we lose I feel I am one of the first guys to get the blame for it,” he told the BBC’s Cricket Social. “I found, yes, there have been days when I have not had good games but I feel sometimes it is easy to point the finger at me.

“It did get to me and that was one of the reasons why I needed to step back from Test cricket. I felt like I was drained from it all. I do think that but I have got to become a stronger person as well.

“A lot of people could see I probably needed a break. I felt fatigued and burnt out. I needed this break to recharge my batteries and work on a few things and just find that hunger and love for the game again. It’s been great.”

Asked whether he would return for the tour of Sri Lanka, where Moeen took 18 wickets at 24.50 in his last Test series in late 2018, he said: “I’m going to go to South Africa now for the one-day stuff and I’ll probably decide there, speak to a few people … I’ll definitely come back when I feel ready.

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