Steve Waugh has fired back at Moeen Ali’s assertion Ashes crowds were ‘disappointing’ by suggesting those views were distorted by his struggles in Australia.
England all-rounder Ali last week spoke of his fear for Test cricket’s future, having found attendances for the Ashes series Down Under troubling when compared with Big Bash crowds for the country’s domestic Twenty20 tournament.
‘It’s been a worry for a while but Australia really opened my eyes. I found it disappointing,’ Ali had said.
Moeen Ali questioned the size of the crowds during this winter’s Ashes series in Australia
‘I feared (for the future) in the Ashes, actually. The crowds were quite disappointing in general.’
Cricket Australia revealed 866,732 were present across the five Tests, the most since the 1936-37 season, and former Aussie captain Waugh insisted there remained a large appetite for the five-day game in his country.
Instead, Waugh thinks Ali’s perception of a season Australia won 4-0 was shaped by his own difficulties as he claimed only five wickets and returned an average of under 20.
‘I think he might have been a bit delirious the whole tour,’ Laureus ambassador Waugh said.
Steve Waugh has labelled the England all-rounder ‘delirious’ for his comments
‘His form wasn’t there, Moeen. He’s a very good player but he was one of the guys that didn’t live up to his reputation in Australia.
‘Australia really went hard at him, particularly with the ball. They bowled short, they thought there was a weakness, and I think his form with the ball suffered from that.
‘He’s a quality player but he had a poor series in Australia. When your form is off, you think the whole world is against you.
‘Maybe he didn’t really take in what was going on around because it was a great series in regards to crowds, it was full and the atmosphere was fantastic.
‘When you’re not playing well and things are against you, everything seems bad.’
Another sign interest in red-ball cricket might be waning has come from three England players – Adil Rashid, Alex Hales and Reece Topley – all turning their back on the first-class game to focus on limited-overs cricket.
Ali struggled with both bat and ball as England were easily beaten by Australia
Asked if he thinks it could be the case that Australian players follow suit, Waugh replied: ‘I hope not; it probably will but I think that’s a real shame, particularly for those guys.
‘They will end up their career… sure they will have some nice financial rewards but they will probably sit back one day and go, ‘Jeez. I wonder how good I might have been at Test cricket if I had really given it a 100 per cent shot?’
‘That’s a personal decision and a business decision these days. It’s not for me to say it’s wrong but I just think maybe they will regret that later on.
‘They’ve probably thought about it and if they’re not getting picked in certain teams, maybe it’s easier playing white-ball cricket.
‘The financial rewards are there and it’s less exposure. The games are forgotten 10 minutes after they’re played so there’s not as much pressure.’