England all-rounder Moeen Ali believes over-50 cricket could soon be in the history books unless the ‘unsustainable’ national and international calendar is settled.
Just three years ago, Eoin Morgan captained England to an unforgettable World Cup triumph in the same format, with Moeen part of the squad and playing in five games at the home tournament.
Next year England will look to defend their audience in India but this year they have played just nine one-day internationals and are not scheduled for the remainder of 2022, with Test cricket and T20s taking precedence.
Moeen, who captains Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred, said: “It just feels like it’s going that way and there’s almost nothing you can do because I think the interest in cricket isn’t that much after 50 is big as before.
“So yeah, after winning it in 2019 it’s difficult because I really feel like in two to three years nobody’s going to want to play it.
“Right now it’s a bit like us domestic here, there’s the Hundred while the 50-over is running and there’s not as much interest in it compared to the County Championships, the Vitality Blast and the Hundred.”
The Royal London Cup, the national 50-over competition, is once again held in the shadow of the Hundred, a franchise tournament created by the England and Wales Cricket Board to increase interest and participation in the sport.
With so many franchise leagues around the world and two more coming in January in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, Moeen fears the schedule will force more players to retire and eventually one format will suffer the consequences.
Ben Stokes last month made the decision to move away from cricket aged over 50, citing the “unsustainable” schedule which will see England play three Tests against South Africa this autumn before a seven T20 tour to Pakistan followed by one another world championship takes place in sprint format in October.
“International cricket in all three formats is by far the best cricket you can play. There’s no doubt about that, but I’m concerned that there are so many tournaments that more players are quitting now, and you’ll see more quitting soon,” Moeen said.
“Right now, I don’t think it’s sustainable. Something has to be done because I fear losing the 50-over format in a few years because it’s almost like the long boring one, if that makes sense.
“It’s almost like you have T20s, you have the test matches which are great and then the 50 overs are just in the middle – that’s not given any importance at the moment.
“Well yeah, I think it’s too much. Personally, I feel like there is too much going on.”
Moeen himself retired from Test cricket last year before admitting he could be lured back this summer by the exciting environment created by England Red Ball captain Stokes and new head coach Brendon McCullum.
While the 35-year-old is a huge fan of The Hundred and will be back again this year, he’s wondering if more players will ‘turn their backs’ on the game’s longest format.
He admitted: “When you’re a young player coming through, there’s so much to earn outside of international cricket too, so you’re almost like saying ‘I don’t mind’ because money wise you’re losing it You that hunger and I think you lose that thing to Test cricket, which is the absolute pinnacle.
“There are so many good players out there who could just turn around and turn their backs on Test cricket for a little bit, not turn their backs but not worry about having to play Test cricket.”
KP Snacks, official team partner of The Hundred, is touring the country this summer to give people more opportunities to play cricket as part of their Everyone In campaign. Visit everyonein.co.uk/about