England all-rounder Moeen Ali has announced his retirement from Test cricket, but will continue to play in limited-overs internationals.
Moeen, 34, scored 2,914 runs and took 195 wickets in 64 Tests, having made his debut against Sri Lanka in 2014.
He won the 50-over World Cup in 2019 and is in England’s preliminary squad for this year’s T20 World Cup.
“I want to play for as long as I can and I just want to enjoy my cricket,” Moeen said.
“I’ve enjoyed Test cricket but that intensity can be too much sometimes and I feel like I’ve done enough of it and I’m happy and content with how I’ve done.”
Moeen added that Test cricket was “better than any other format by far” and “more rewarding” when he was playing well.
The left-handed batter and off-spinner hit five centuries and took five five-wicket hauls in Tests, finishing with a batting average of 28.29 and a bowling average of 36.66.
Only 15 bowlers have taken more Test wickets for England and Moeen is ranked third among English spinners, behind Derek Underwood (297) and Graeme Swann (255).
In 2017, Moeen became the fifth-fastest player in terms of matches played to reach 2,000 runs and 100 wickets, also taking a hat-trick against South Africa that year to seal a series win at The Oval.
He was part of the 2015 Ashes-winning side but struggled during the 2017-18 series in Australia and took a break from cricket after being dropped during the 2019 Ashes at home.
Moeen was not recalled to the Test team until the tour of Sri Lanka in January this year, but missed the two Tests after contracting coronavirus and spent 14 days in isolation.
He finally made his return in the second Test in India in February, taking eight wickets, before travelling home as part of England’s rotation policy before the final two Tests.
He played three of England’s four home Tests against India this summer before the fifth was cancelled because of Covid-19 concerns.
Had the fifth Test gone ahead, Moeen could have become only the 15th player in Test history to score 3,000 runs and take 200 wickets.
Following the T20 World Cup in Oman and the United Arab Emirates in October and November, England are set to face Australia in the five-Test Ashes series starting on 8 December.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there will be “no special deals” for families of England cricketers to be allowed to travel and some players are considering pulling out because of the strict Covid-19 protocols.
Moeen, who has also played 112 one-day internationals and 38 T20s, has two young children and thanked his family for their support.
“They have all been amazing on my journey, everything I did I did for them,” he said.
“My brothers and my sister, on my bad days they’ve been the first to pick me up and my wife and kids, my wife’s sacrifices and the patience she has, I am really grateful for that.
“My parents are my number one, I feel without their support there is no way I would have made it.”
Moeen also thanked former coach Peter Moores, current head coach Chris Silverwood, former captain Sir Alastair Cook and current skipper Joe Root.
He added that he hoped his Test career will inspire other British Muslims to play for England.
“I’d love one day, in 10 years’ time, somebody to say ‘Moeen made it easier for me’,” he said.
“There have been guys before me who made it easier, so you hope to open the door for someone else.”
He is currently in the UAE where he is playing for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
He captained Birmingham Phoenix in the inaugural men’s Hundred this summer and is expected to continue playing white-ball cricket domestically for Worcestershire.
‘A huge loss’ to Test team – Root
England Test captain Root said Moeen would be “a huge loss” to the team and wished the all-rounder “every success in everything he chooses to do”.
Root added that Moeen had “at times been underappreciated” outside the dressing room but never within it.
Moeen hit his maiden Test century in only his second match and scored four tons in 2016, but never added to that tally, also batting in every position between one and nine for England.
Root said there “might have been times when we could have done things slightly differently” when asked about England’s management of Moeen, but added: “I could say that about a lot of things.”
He said Moeen had been “a wonderful role model” and he hoped young boys and girls will “want to follow in his footsteps because he’s done fabulous things”.
“The way he holds himself is fantastic. He leaves a legacy,” added Root.