India v England: Chris Silverwood apologises to Moeen Ali
Coach Chris Silverwood has apologised to all-rounder Moeen Ali for the manner in which England confirmed he will miss the final two India Tests.
Captain Joe Root said Moeen had “chosen” to leave, although his exit had been planned for some time.
“We are sorry the impression we gave was that Moeen is being treated differently to other people. He isn’t,” said Silverwood.
“The decision for him to go home was ours and we will own that decision.”
It had been planned for Moeen, 33, to miss the final two Tests in Ahmedabad, but England approached him over staying in India on the fourth day of the second Test in Chennai.
After it was decided that Moeen would leave, Root told the media following England’s 317-run defeat: “It’s come to a point where he wants to get out of the bubble.”
Realising he had not expressed himself clearly enough, Root reiterated his support for Moeen going home in a conversation with him at the team hotel.
Under England’s rotation policy, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood have been rested from some Tests this winter.
“The decision for Moeen to go home was ours, as it was with the other players,” said Silverwood.
Moeen spent 14 days in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus in Sri Lanka in January. When he recovered, he revealed he was due to be rested for the last two Tests of the India series.
He was recalled to play in the second Test – his first for 18 months – where his match totals of eight wickets and 49 runs were the best by an England player.
England asked him to stay for the remainder of the Tests and rest during the limited-overs part of the tour.
“It was a unique situation with Moeen, the fact that he had spent so long in isolation getting Covid out in Sri Lanka and how he’d just broken back into the team,” said Silverwood.
“The question was posed to him but ultimately we felt it was the right decision for him to go home.”
Silverwood defends rotation policy
England’s rotation policy was implemented to help manage the workload and wellbeing of the players, who spend lengthy periods in bio-secure ‘bubbles’ because of coronavirus restrictions.
“We’re trying to be proactive and get the breaks in there for them so we don’t get to a point where they have had enough,” said Silverwood.
“To send them home, get them fresh… seeing the guys that have come back, they are bouncing, excited and full of energy. That is exactly where I want the players to be and we are working hard to make that happen.”
England’s only full-strength squads this winter have been for the Twenty20 series in South Africa and India as they build towards a World Cup in India in October.
Several players who were rested from Tests played in the Indian Premier League that ended in November and will take part in another IPL from April to June, potentially missing the home Test series against New Zealand.
But Silverwood said: “Test cricket is most definitely the priority for us. It is something Joe and I are very passionate about.
“We know we have a great opportunity to have a bit of a dry run with the T20 World Cup being in India, but, equally, we have to respect that to get people to the World Cup and the Ashes fresh and on top form, we have to look after them.”
The four-match series against India is level at 1-1, with the day-night third Test beginning on 24 February.
Batsman Zak Crawley missed the first two Tests with a wrist injury and pace bowler Jofra Archer the second with an elbow problem, but Silverwood said both are back in training.