England’s Moeen Ali admits they will miss the crowd when they face SA at Newlands

England captain Eoin Morgan chats to media at Newlands on February 3 2020.
England captain Eoin Morgan chats to media at Newlands on February 3 2020.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

England’s off-spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali is accustomed to playing in front of big crowds but also understands the need to keep up with the times and live with the safety observations that are part and parcel of the Covid-19 era.

The 33-year-old all-rounder played in the limited overs leg of the bio-bubble English summer where the World Champions turned out in front of empty stadiums.

Ali said it would have been nice to play in front of a big crowd‚ something Newlands would have guaranteed in normal times‚ but this is what they have to deal with.

“It’s the way the times are at the moment. When we played in the Pakistan Super League‚ we played in front of some large crowds and in the last three games‚ there were no crowds and it was difficult.

"Everyone who played in the game struggled‚ but you get used to it. It’s six to seven months now that we’ve been playing in the bubble‚ but it’s not the same like having crowds and people‚” Ali said.

“Newlands have a great crowd and the noise you can get is amazing. It’s a shame that there are no crowds‚ but one hopes this phase is temporary and that we can get crowds in the near future.”

England’s limited overs side‚ while still one of the crack outfits going around in world cricket‚ was split because of the Covid-19 environment.

The limited-overs only tour means England can pick their best squad as the red-ball players don’t have to worry about the longer form. Ali said it was good to have the full strength team.

“The full strength side is very exciting for everyone. There’s competition for places and guys work really hard‚ but to get on the plane and see the guys together is nice. We haven’t had a full strength side together since the World Cup‚” Ali said.

Ali’s enthusiasm for the shorter formats has been tempered by his mild test match showings. He may have played 60 Tests‚ but with Dom Bess having an unchallenged run in the team following Ali’s form-induced absence‚ getting back into the Test team may be harder.

Ali admitted that it has been tough for him mentally‚ but with England having a full home summer program for next year‚ alongside a confirmed tour of Pakistan‚ he has got a lot to look forward to should he find form and a place in the team

“It’s been frustrating for me‚ especially from a mental side. The hunger hasn’t been there for a year and a half. There have been glimpses here and there‚ but deep down‚ I know I haven’t done that well for quite a while. Being part of the England team and the support I’m getting from the coach’s show the big part the things that I do play in the team‚” Ali said.

“It’s my job now to go out and perform and it’s just a mental thing where I need to get to a mental space‚ which I feel I have been working on over the past five months. It’s about clearing everything out and starting afresh again.”