England all-rounder Moeen Ali has extended his break from international cricket, saying that he wants to get the feeling of making his debut again when he does eventually walk out to an international arena again.
Moeen's last international appearance came during the home Ashes series earlier this year, following which he made himself unavailable for selection indefinitely. He did admit to feeling tempted to return for the tour of South Africa, where his team had triumphed 2-1 in a four-match series back in 2015-16, before eventually deciding that it was "too soon" to make a return.
"Last week, there were conversations about whether I felt ready to return for the South Africa tour, and naturally, part of me was keen to get back out there," Moeen wrote in his column for The Guardian. "My record against them is pretty good, and as a team, we have happy memories of winning there four years ago.
The plan behind my break from Test cricket was to freshen up, enjoy some new environments and get my game back in good order.
"But it just felt too soon. The past few years have been so full-on, and the plan behind my break from Test cricket was to freshen up, enjoy some new environments and get my game back in good order. That is something that people perhaps don't realise is hard to do when you play all three international formats, and particularly so when you are an all-rounder."
Moeen is likely to return for England's tour of Sri Lanka, featuring two Tests, in March next year. The 32-year-old, though, is making no assurances at present.
"I have put no timeframe on things. I just want to get that buzz back - a feeling of making my debut again - and ultimately become a better player for it. And there is no expectation of simply walking back into the Test team, far from it. I have taken a risk with this break, but I'm still gunning for Jack Leach, Matt Parkinson, and all my England team-mates to have a great series in South Africa."
ICYMI: England have named their 17-man squad for their four-Test series in South Africa 👇https://t.co/RkD5hWYhJQ— ICC (@ICC) December 8, 2019
Moeen, who has regularly featured for England across formats for the last five years, felt that the break has made him "feel quite liberating", and thanked the management for backing his decision.
"Since my international debut in 2014, the miles on the clock have probably crept up, and Test cricket is the level where the pressure and scrutiny are greatest. Combining it all had become a bit draining, and rushing back now might have seen nothing change in this regard.
"The England management have been very understanding, although it has been slightly strange reading some of the reaction to this in the media, including the idea that 2019 has been tough for me on a personal level. As well as becoming a dad for the second time, I look back on the past 12 months in cricket with a huge amount of pride and satisfaction."
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