Failed England star’s ridiculous Ashes argument
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 Twenty20 tri-series and is preparing for the one-day campaign 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 there.
"I feared (for the future) in the Ashes, actually. The crowds were quite 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'. We're very lucky in England - after being all around the world and seeing the crowds everywhere else, we've got the best fans, we've got full houses most of the time.
"But 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."
Unfortunately none of what the spinner had to say was based in reality.
The series was the second most attended series in Australian history, with 866,732 people attending the five matches. Only the 1936-37 Ashes, played at the height of Sir Donald Bradman's popularity and before television, enjoyed more.
The day/night Adelaide Test attracted almost 200,000 fans, a record for a cricket match at the ground, and, as Ali noted, a bumper crowd of 88,172 packed the MCG on Boxing Day.
"To have had more than 865,000 people attend the Ashes Series, the highest attendance since the 1936-37 Ashes, and millions more tune in to broadcasts around the country, demonstrates the enthusiasm the Australian public continues to have for Test cricket." Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said after the series.
Obviously Ali missed the memo.