Stand-in England captain Moeen Ali keen to downplay England’s Twenty20 World Cup chances as preparations begin with Pakistan tour after three series defeats in a row
- Moeen Ali has downplayed England’s Twenty20 World Cup chances this winter
- England are preparing for a long series with Pakistan, which starts tomorrow
- The side have lost all three T20 series since former captain Eoin Morgan retired
- Several players are injured or being rested ahead of the tournament in Australia
Preparations for England’s latest attempt to unite world cricket’s white-ball titles begin in the fervent atmosphere of Karachi this evening – with stand-in captain Moeen Ali keen to downplay their chances.
Ali, wearing the armband until Jos Buttler returns from a calf injury, believes a team that retains at its core some of the best limited-overs players this country has ever produced does not need the burden of lugging a favourites tag with it to the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia next month despite reaching the semi-final stage of each of the last four global events.
‘It is important we don’t put pressure on ourselves and say we are going to win a World Cup. We have been such a good side over the last two or three years but we have missed out too sometimes which is about weight of expectation,’ Ali said.
England stand-in captain Moeen Ali has downplayed England’s World Twenty20 chances
They have lost three series in a row since Jos Buttler (left) and Matthew Mott (right) took over
‘We need to focus on one game. The World Cup, we win one game at a time, by playing our best cricket and not worrying about the end result. That will take care of itself.
‘It suits our style to be not so desperate for something. Of course, everyone wants to win it, but let’s see how it goes and play our best.’
There have been significant changes since the 2021 T20 tournament ended in a last-four exit to New Zealand last November: Eoin Morgan’s midsummer retirement has been followed by the omission of Jason Roy and year-ending injury to Jonny Bairstow.
And it will be hard to quantify the progress of the side on this trip, particularly in the short term, given the huge turnover in personnel from the team that will start the seven-match series here and the one expected to take the field in Perth against Afghanistan on October 22.
Ali said England’s poor form is partly down the the departure of former captain Eoin Morgan
Ben Stokes (left), Liam Livingstone (centre) and Chris Jordan (right) will not feature in Pakistan
In addition to Buttler, bowlers Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Reece Topley will have comebacks from injury absence carefully managed while Ben Stokes, Liam Livingstone and Chris Jordan will bolster the squad down under.
England have already used 23 players in Twenty20 this calendar year and nine more can expect game-time against Asia Cup runners-up Pakistan.
Such drastic alterations in personnel have undoubtedly affected results, with all three bilateral series in 2022 ending in defeat.
Ali suggests poor performances earlier this summer were partly a hangover from Morgan’s departure and partly a loss of tactical identity.
This tour therefore can be viewed as a ‘starting point’, said Ali, who added: ‘This is not a reset, the Test side has had a reset, and when Morgs took over that was a reset, but this is more about how we’re going to evolve and go forward.
Eoin Morgan (right) resigned as England’s white ball captain early this year after seven years
Pakistan will provide a stern test for England as preparations for the World Cup begin
‘Yes, we want to be brave and be aggressive, like we always have been, but there’s also a method to that. Maybe this summer, we were going out and trying to be really aggressive, and were being bowled out. The fundamentals to batting remain, we just need to get that balance right.’
Things will not get any easier over the next fortnight. Pakistan have a formidable record at the National Stadium – which will play host to four 30,000 sell-outs in six nights before the series moves on to Lahore – winning all nine white-ball fixtures at the venue since international cricket returned to the country three years ago.
The opening match carries significance on multiple levels: for Birmingham-born Ali the honour of captaining against the country of his heritage, for Pakistan a first home match versus England for 17 years and for the country itself a vehicle for raising funds, as all proceeds will be used to provide relief to the millions affected by the recent, devastating floods.
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