Moeen Ali, the captain of Sharjah Warriors in the ILT20, says he owes a lot to Chennai Super and MS Dhoni for the success he has achieved as a cricketer. The all-rounder also shared his views on his future goals. He also touched upon the legacy left behind by Eoin Morgan as the captain of England’s limited-overs side and Jos Buttler’s leadership.
Excerpts from an interview:
You have played in so many leagues and for so many franchises. How different are IT20 and Sharjah Warriors?
Obviously, these are early days, we are just starting. With the ILT20 being the first in the UAE, potentially it can be a very, very big competition. That’s what we want. We can help the players of a country to develop and be competitive with good players. Their international team will soon be good. That is going to be the biggest positive.
Some big players are playing here and some more are playing in South Africa and Bangladesh. Would you have preferred if these leagues had not clashed?
Ideally, of course. Then you can have more good players here and elsewhere too. I think it will happen in the future. We can’t have two major competitions clashing.
How difficult is it to adjust to situations where you have a set of players with you at one place and against you at another place?
It is not difficult. It is not always easy but you find a way eventually to get better.
Are you disturbed by the trend of players prematurely retiring because of mushrooming leagues?
No! Not at all. Because, if the leagues are paying players better than their countries, then there is a problem. I don’t know if the leagues do but yes, we love playing for England. If you think about it, a player would be thinking, ‘I get paid more for less cricket and fewer days, I can play longer.’ It makes sense. One can play up to 38 and 39. It is not possible if one only plays international cricket. This will happen.
So, what is your status vis-a-vis Test cricket. Are you in or out?
Yeah, I am done with it.
What is happening to cricket in England? Both white ball and red ball sides are winning everything.
I think they are doing something right. They are playing some amazing cricket and it is very entertaining also. I think Test cricket needs that. I think the One-Day team has changed quickly. So has the Test side. I think the mindset has changed also and the coaches are backing the players. That is the difference.
Having played with CSK in the IPL, how much of a help has it been to your international career?
It made a big difference to my international career. When I was playing for England and batting at 7 (at 8 in Test matches), CSK sent me at No 3. The franchise gave me the responsibility and backing. The big thing is them signing me and then retaining me. The backing you get from CSK and the way the franchise is run is absolutely amazing. Everyone says it is the best franchise.
Playing under MS Dhoni’s leadership, how much has it helped your game? What have you learnt from him?
I spent some time with MS and spoke a lot. I ask questions about captaincy and he answers. It is very open like that. As a captain I learnt a lot from him. I have also learnt a lot from his batting. You learn a lot in CSK.
The upcoming edition of the IPL will be your third season with CSK. How special is the bond in the team when compared to other teams and other leagues?
I don’t know about other teams but CSK is a family franchise. I am looking forward to this season. They had a very good auction. I am looking forward to playing with the new players (they have bought Ben Stokes) and the biggest thing is I am looking forward to the Chepauk and its crowd.
How much of a role has the IPL played in England’s success in limited-overs cricket?
A lot. I think the IPL has really contributed a lot to the England team. Not just as individuals but we played a lot against the Indian team. You get to know about the Indian players’ strengths and weaknesses. You can use that to your advantage. As individuals, it definitely helped us playing in front of big crowds.
With plenty of T20 leagues around the world, and you having taken part in most of them, how tough is it to maintain the balance between international and league cricket?
At the moment, the guys in South Africa want to be playing here and the guys here want to be playing in South Africa. It is a big dilemma at the moment.
How do you look at Eoin Morgan’s legacy to England’s limited-overs side and Jos Buttler’s captaincy?
Jos has to do things his own way. And he has done that. I love the work done by Morgs. He did a fantastic job. Jos has really taken over and is trying to become his own man. This is his team. He has won one trophy. Hopefully there are more to come.
Can you look back at England’s journey in the T20 WC, especially in the backdrop of losing to Ireland. What was spoken in team meetings?
We just sat down and we spoke to be more aggressive. We became more dynamic as a team. We really switched styles and played really well after that. We went on to beat Sri Lanka, New Zealand, India and Pakistan. We play well when we have our backs against the wall.
What can you say about the challenges of batting in different positions?
It is a good thing. Somebody who can bat in different positions can give to the team a lot more. You can also add a lot more to the balance of the team. I don’t mind that. CSK gave me the chance of batting at No 3 and it gave me the confidence to do that for England.
With several players emerging in the England limited-overs circuit, how do you keep yourself going at 35?
By playing and training hard. I don’t like too much of a break. A break makes the body a little stiff.
With the 2023 50-over World Cup in India and the 2024 T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA coming next, what are the personal goals?
I want both the trophies again. I don’t really set personal goals but as a team, we have to keep going and we have to keep winning the trophies.