Moeen Ali has admitted England let themselves down with the bat in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane.
On a blameless batting track, England failed to make 200 in their second innings with none of their batsmen scoring more than 51. But while Moeen accepted England weren’t going to win on the final day, with Australia requiring just 56 more runs with all 10 of their second-innings wickets in hand, he took some encouragement from his side’s performance and suggested Australia are “not as good as we sometimes make out”.
“We’re very disappointed,” Moeen said. “For the first three days, we played well and were in the game. Today we let ourselves down with the bat.
“A few players got in, but nobody made the big score that we needed. We couldn’t get that big hundred. It was a good pitch to bat on but we haven’t made a hundred in the game. When you come to the Gabba, you have to have guys who get hundreds if you’re going to have any chance of winning. We’ll have to score hundreds in the next four games.”
Moeen did not spare himself from such criticism. Despite a slightly controversial dismissal in the second innings, Moeen insisted he had nobody to blame but himself after making scores of 38 and 40.
In that second innings, he was adjudged out stumped when the TV umpire, Chris Gaffaney, concluded (after multiple replays) that he had dragged his back foot out of a crease that appeared to be slightly unevenly painted. It was a desperately tight decision, certainly, but Moeen had no criticism for the umpire or any of the groundstaff.
“If I was bowling I’d want it to be given out,” he said. “I thought I was all right at the time, but the replay looked very tight. It depends at what angle you look at it. You have to respect the umpire’s call.
“I’m just disappointed with myself for getting out like that. I was most disappointed in the time I was out. Jonny Bairstow and I were building a good partnership.
“They were under a little bit of pressure then. If we could have carried on, we could have set them 220 or even more than that. So to get out then was very disappointing.”
Moeen also refused to make excuses for a disappointing personal display with the ball in the second innings. While he said he had struggled with a cut spinning finger in the first innings, he admitted he just bowled poorly in the second when he was removed from the attack after four expensive overs.
“I ripped my spinning finger after about 15 overs of the first innings” he said. “It’s not been easy since then. I’ve had to have it glued and filed and tried to keep it hard.
“But today it felt much better and I just didn’t bowl very well.”
Most of all, though, he was frustrated that England had failed to take opportunities against an Australia side that are good, certainly, but not unbeatable.
“We feel Australia are a good side,” he said. “But they’re not as good as we sometimes make out. We know we have to compete very well in the next four games.
“Steve Smith has probably been the difference. Without him they would have struggled to get anywhere near 300. He played very well.
“We scored 300 in our first innings without Alastair Cook or Joe Root scoring many runs. That’s a positive. And the new guys played quite well. We had big partnerships and the run-out of James Vince, in the first innings, was a big moment. Then we had them at 70 for four but we couldn’t take the next wicket.”
Inevitably, Moeen was asked about the absence of Ben Stokes and he admitted he had been missed.
“In the last couple of years, we’ve been very good at getting a big score despite losing wickets at the top of the order,” Moeen said. “The lower order have contributed a lot.
“Here it us cost us in both innings. But it’s more an issue for the top six or seven: we have to be the ones to score big hundreds and put the opposition under pressure.
“Obviously Ben is a very good player. He gives us great balance coming in at No. 6, with Bairstow No. 7 and me at No. 8. It means we can get lower-order runs. So he’s always going to be a miss. But we know he’s not here and we have to get on with it.”