English all-rounder Moeen Ali believes that over-50s cricket could soon be relegated to the history books if the ‘unsustainable’ domestic and international calendar is not set.
It was only three years ago that Eoin Morgan led England to an unforgettable World Cup triumph in the same format, with Moeen as part of the roster and used in five games of the home tournament.
Next year England will try to defend their crowd in India, but this year they have only played nine one-day internationals and have no more 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 don’t think the interest in over-50s cricket is there like it probably once was.
“So yeah, after I won it in 2019 it’s a tough one because I really feel like in two to three years no one wants to play it.
“It’s kind of like our housekeeping stuff here right now. There’s the Hundred while the 50-over is going on and there’s not that much interest compared to the County Championship, the Vitality Blast and the Hundred.”
The Royal London Cup, the domestic competition for the over-50s, once again takes place in the shadow of the Hundred, a franchise tournament created by the England and Wales Cricket Board to increase interest in and participation in the sport.
With so many franchise leagues around the world, with two more to come in January in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, Moeen fears the schedule will force more players to retire and that eventually a format will have to feel the consequences. .
Ben Stokes made the decision last month to walk away from 50-over cricket, citing the “unsustainable” schedule that sees England play three Tests against South Africa this autumn before a tour to Pakistan with seven T20s, followed by another World Cup in the sprint format in October.
“International cricket in all three formats is by far the best cricket to play. There is no doubt about that, but I do worry that there are so many tournaments that players are retiring more now and you will see more players retiring soon,” said Moeen.
“Right now, I don’t think it’s sustainable. Something has to be done because I’m afraid I’ll lose the 50-over format in a few years because it’s almost a 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 right in the middle – no importance is given to that at the moment.
“So yeah, I think there’s too much. Personally, I feel like there’s too much going on.”
Moeen himself retired from Test cricket last year before admitting he could be tempted again this summer by the exciting environment created by England’s red ball captain Stokes and new head coach Brendon McCullum.
While a huge fan of the Hundred and involved again this year, the 35-year-old wonders 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 money to be made outside of international cricket too, so you’re almost like ‘I don’t care much’ because in terms of money, lose that hunger and I think you lose that thing to Test cricket, which is the absolute highlight.
“There are so many good players who can easily turn around and turn their backs on test cricket, not turn their backs, but don’t have to worry about playing 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