WI vs Eng, 3rd T20I – Moeen Ali: ‘No excuses’ as England’s white-ball fortunes continue to slide

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Moeen Ali says there are “no excuses” for England’s recent performances, after they suffered a fourth defeat in five matches against West Indies.

England fell to a 10-run loss in Grenada to leave them 2-0 down in the five-match T20I series, having already lost the ODI series 2-1.

The change of formats from ODIs to T20Is saw a number of experienced players join the group after resting for the first leg of the trip, with Moeen, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes all returning. Nevertheless, two matches have brought about two further defeats, with England letting winning positions slide in both encounters.

“Obviously disappointing because you want to start winning with the World Cup around the corner in these conditions,” Moeen said, with this series a de facto dress rehearsal for the T20 World Cup that will take place in the Caribbean and USA in six months’ time.

“I thought a lot of the game we played well and then they just smashed two big overs that probably just took the game away from us a little bit…I hate saying there’s a few positives, but there are a few I thought.”

Moeen singled out the performance of Rashid, whose figures of 2 for 11 were the second most economical in his T20I career, and Sam Curran, who took a beating with the ball, but responded with a 31-ball half-century, the first of his career in the format, having been promoted to No.4.

“The great thing about being a very good all-rounder as he is, is you can have a bad day with the ball but you can contribute with the bat and still try to win the game, which he almost did,” Moeen said.

Curran’s half-century partially atoned for a 30-run second over in which West Indies’ skipper Rovman Powell hit him for a four and four sixes in five legal deliveries. Curran did dismiss Powell with his last delivery, but it was well beyond ‘last laugh’ territory as the complexion of the match had changed.

Moeen was seen chatting to Curran mid-over as Powell’s onslaught continued, and explained the gist of it afterwards. “Just be clear, what’s your plan? What’s your Plan B?” he said. “I know he’s lacking a bit of confidence but still, in those situations, you’ve got to be real brave and just try to keep it simple. We’ve got to get better. And it’s not just taking wickets.”

A point of particular irritation for Moeen was England’s inability to take on the West Indies spinners, Akeal Hosein and Gudakesh Motie, who bowled eight consecutive overs of left-arm-spin from the Pavilion End. Hosein bowled three across the powerplay, then Motie bowled his full allotment, before Hosein returned to finish his set once Motie was done. They combined for figures of 3 for 33, with Motie conceding just nine runs from his four overs.

“They bowled really well obviously, they know these conditions, but I still feel for Motie to go for nine off four overs is not good enough from our point of view. At least, I think we can rotate a bit more if we’re not going to take him down.”

Since the start of the World Cup, England have now won four and lost ten of their last 14 matches. It’s a frankly unimaginable situation given the quality and expectation placed on their shoulders after the success of the last eight years.

“We’re not [able to] at the moment,” Moeen said simply, when asked about England’s ability to grab the big moments of matches. West Indies recovered from 54 for 4 in the second game, with England having failed to capitalise on their third highest powerplay score of 77 in the opening game. Instead they lost all ten wickets for 94.

“But there’s still a bit of time to go before the World Cup and we need to get a few things right as a side.

“I mean, there’s still players to come back, obviously with Stokesy, Bairstow and Woody. But there’s no excuse. Everyone’s a good player here – our guys have played quite a bit now in T20.

“It wasn’t long ago since we won the World Cup. We’ve just got to adapt quickly to these conditions, because this is what we’re going to get, it’s completely different to Australia and we’ve just got to start winning.”

For a player with the experience of Moeen, who has been an ever-present in England’s white-ball formats since 2015 and remains the vice-captain, the current situation and environment is a distinct change from the dressing-room that spent eight years defeating almost anyone who came in front of them. And whilst Moeen did admit that patience is also required, the natural post-match irritation after suffering a defeat was tangible.

“I mean, of course, you’ve got to be patient for the new guys to find a role in the side and their feet a little bit but still, even when we played before it wasn’t just win or bust – it was ‘we’re going to take you on, take it to the side’. It wasn’t all slogging and just hitting sixes. We’ve got players who are really smart and proper players. It does sometimes take a bit of time and getting players in the right positions.

“There will be a difficult period. This was always going to happen, as everyone knows. It’s just getting back on it and making it clear for everybody their roles in the side.”

Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby


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