Moeen Ali hails England's return to Pakistan: 'It's a massive moment for cricket going forward'

Nick Hoult
·4-min read
Moeen Ali play against Pakistan in England this summer - AFP
Moeen Ali play against Pakistan in England this summer - AFP

Moeen Ali has described England’s tour to Pakistan next year as “massive for cricket” after it was confirmed they will play two Twenty20 matches in Karachi in October, ending a 16-year long wait.

England have not toured Pakistan since 2005 but had been invited to the country in January for a short series of Twenty20 games.

However, the logistics of organising a Twenty20 series at the same time as England are scheduled to play Test cricket in Sri Lanka persuaded both boards to delay the trip by nine months to October.

England will now fly to Karachi on Oct 12 and play two Twenty20 matches before going to India for the Twenty20 World Cup on Oct 16.

The calendar for 2021 took shape on Wednesday with England confirming summer dates for series against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India. Ballots for tickets opened as well on Wednesday in the hope of fans returning to stadiums.

England will play white-ball series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka next summer as well as five Tests with India. They are also hoping to fit in a two-Test series in June, most likely against New Zealand, and a Twenty20 series with Sri Lanka. Both those series are still to be finalised and will depend on the finalists of the World Test Championship at Lord’s in June.

The trip to Pakistan has greater meaning beyond two Twenty20 matches, particularly for Moeen who has Pakistani heritage. England touring is a sure sign of the resumption of cricket in Pakistan after a decade in exile in the United Arab Emirates and a significant achievement for Wasim Khan, the British chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

“Yes, it’s massive,” said Moeen, who has played in the Pakistan Super League this year. “Having been there not so long ago, it was an amazing experience to play the PSL there and I’m sure Pakistan have gone all out to host that. We can’t wait to go there in the future. It’s a massive moment for cricket going forward. I think it’s right we go back after such a long time for the game itself and for Pakistan and cricket in the country.”

Most ticket holders who missed out on live cricket in 2020 have rolled their tickets over to next summer and if crowds are allowed to watch sport again by then, county clubs will be hopeful of making up for the £200 million losses incurred playing behind closed doors.

Next year is building up to be the busiest ever for England. If the two-Test series in June is arranged and England reach the World Test Championship final, an unlikely but not impossible scenario, they could play 17 Tests in 2020 as well as a Twenty20 World Cup and tours to Sri Lanka, India (twice), Bangladesh (white-ball cricket only), Pakistan and Australia for the Ashes.

England's summer schedule for 2021
England's summer schedule for 2021

England trained in Cape Town on Wednesday for the first time since arriving in South Africa. They have the first of three intra-squad matches on Friday before playing South Africa in the first Twenty20 on Nov 27.

Moeen endured a tough summer struggling for consistency with England and only played three matches for Bangalore in the IPL.

At 33 he acknowledged he “doesn’t have that much time left” for England but is determined to make the most of his remaining few years.

"I know I haven't got that long left in international cricket, obviously depending on fitness and form, but I'll try my best to do as much as I can to get to the level I want to get," he said.

"It's frustrating for myself and it's more of a mental thing. That hunger has not been there in the last year or so, there's been glimpses but I know deep down I haven't done well over a period of time.

"I've had enough of a break from Test cricket. I can give my all in the next couple of years to try and be part of this. There's so much cricket and so much success to have. There's an opportunity there to be one of the greatest sides ever and be part of that. That's something I want to do. For me, right now, to play as much cricket as I can and do the best I can.