England spinner Moeen Ali remains adamant his Test career is over

Moeen Ali admitted he would have forever rued turning down England’s Ashes SOS but the spin bowling all-rounder was adamant his Test career is now over.

Ben Stokes sent a text simply saying ‘Ashes?’ to Moeen, who responded ‘Lol’ having been unaware that England’s frontline spinner Jack Leach was out of the series because of a stress fracture in his back.

However, Moeen dutifully ended a red-ball exile spanning almost two years and defied finger and adductor injuries to make telling contributions, with a selfless move to bat at three helping him go past 3,000 runs while he also reached 200 wickets to become the 16th player to get to both milestones.

Moeen Ali, left, made key contributions during the Ashes (John Walton/PA)
Moeen Ali, left, made key contributions during the Ashes (John Walton/PA)

Even if he finished with modest batting and bowling averages of 25.71 and 51.44 respectively, Moeen was delighted to have featured in a 2-2 drawn series that will be remembered as one of the best ever.

He said: “It was daunting but I had nothing to lose, it was a free hit. I felt like I was bowling alright but the finger was the only issue. I wasn’t worried about the bowling.

“I would have regretted it later in life (had he not played in the series). I’ve never done well against Australia, I still don’t believe I’ve done that well but it was great to finish like this.”

Moeen’s experience in Asia, where he has taken 56 wickets in 14 Tests, may have made him a prized asset for England’s next assignment in the new year in India, where the pitches are typically spin-friendly.

But he has no intention of adding to his 68 Test caps despite enjoying his time under captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, who was rebuffed by Moeen about carrying on in the format.

He said: “There’s no way I’m going. That’s me done. They knew from the start. Baz (McCullum) asked me again but I said ‘no’.

“Test cricket is the best cricket, I wish I could rewind time. Although my career has been a bit up and down, I wouldn’t change it. I’ve loved it.”

While Moeen has never been known for his consistency, he was crucial to England’s series-levelling victory on the last day at the Kia Oval with three crucial wickets as Australia crumpled in a heap.

Derek Underwood and Graeme Swann may be ahead of Moeen’s 204 wickets among England’s spinners but the 36-year-old bests the pair with more dismissals at a better average in the fourth innings.

Indeed, his average in the last innings of 23.17 is only marginally worse than the late, great Shane Warne’s 23.14 although Moeen’s strike-rate of 40.2 is significantly better than the Australian’s 52.9.

Moeen said: “I’ve never felt like a proper spinner like those guys. I don’t overthink bowling on the last day. It’s ragging so I’ll try to get it spinning as much as I can.

“The bowling was always a fight. I have always loved the last innings, day five – it’s spinning, that’s when I’ve always bowled my best.

“The encouragement I got from Baz and Stokesy to go and bowl my best ball, through the gate and things like that, I think that brings the best out of me.”

Moeen walked off the field in his final Test on Monday arm-in-arm with Stuart Broad, who signed off from his record-breaking cricketing career in fairytale fashion with a wicket off his last ball.

Moeen said: “I was a little bit embarrassed to be walking off with a great. It proves the man he is. I was really reluctant but it was great.”

Moeen, left, and Stuart Broad led England off the Kia Oval field on Monday (Mike Egerton/PA)
Moeen, left, and Stuart Broad led England off the Kia Oval field on Monday (Mike Egerton/PA)

Moeen and Broad represent 50 per cent of the Englishmen who have amassed 3,000 runs and 200 wickets in Tests – along with Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff.

Moeen revealed the landmark was more significant for his father Munir, adding: “As soon as I got that milestone, my dad checked out. He wants me to do well but he checked out – he was just buzzing.

“It’s a great list to be on. It feels a bit weird. Those great names and me. Something is not right!”