Vice-captain Moeen Ali has urged England to rebuild their ageing team after the World Cup, claiming “the writing was on the wall and we just didn’t see it”.
Moeen was part of a golden generation who became world champions on home soil in 2019 and are likely to go down as the country’s best ever white-ball side, but their story is ending in disarray.
After arriving in India with genuine hopes of defending their crown, they have crashed out of the competition in humiliating fashion with six defeats from their seven matches so far.
Ashes rivals Australia became the latest side to turn them over on Sunday, finally confirming the early exit that had long been on the cards, joining New Zealand, Afghanistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and India in a growing list.
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For the last three games England have fielded a side comprised entirely of over-thirties and prospects of a radical overhaul will surely prove irresistible. Back in 2015 Eoin Morgan led a similar renewal, strikingly calling time on the vastly experienced James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
And Moeen, the oldest player in the squad at 36, realises that time has caught up with them.
“I just think everything good comes to an end at some point,” he said.
“Maybe the writing was on the wall and we just didn’t see it as players because we thought we’d be performing well.
“I think if I was in charge I’d play the younger guys, I’d just start again and I’m sure they’re going to do that. It’s common sense more than anything. You want that fearless approach and it’s a great time to start again.”
Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root are among the stalwarts who have publicly said they want to carry on in 50-over cricket, but Moeen appears ready to step away with no grudges.
“I’m obviously going to speak to Jos Buttler and Motty (head coach Matthew Mott) and see what they want from me, whether they want me around or whatever,” he said.
“I don’t know. If they say, ‘look we’re going to go with younger players and start again’ then I’m more than happy. I get it, I understand and like I said, everything good comes to an end at some point.”
England could choose to start the regeneration process immediately, with Harry Brook (24), Sam Curran (25), Gus Atkinson (25) and Brydon Carse (28) all waiting in the wings in the current squad.
Bringing Brook back into a top six that has repeatedly fallen short appears the most obvious move but England may find it hard to shrug off their conservatism by making wholesale changes against the Netherlands on Wednesday.
The game in Pune is not only a must-win in terms of basic pride but also critical if England are to keep alive their hopes of finishing in the top eight and securing a place in the Champions Trophy in 2025.
Buttler said he would need time to “digest” the latest defeat before making a call on team selection, but did not rule out another show of faith in the old guard.
“The guys who we were selecting have been top players for a long time and time kind of says that at some point they’ll get back to being the best,” he said.
Moeen, despite his readiness to slip into the shadows, stands ready to play if required.
“Like always, you pick the best players who you think are going to win the game,” he said.
“We obviously haven’t been playing well and I’m sure they’re going to talk and decide on who they want to play. We’ve got to turn up properly as players. These are two massive games coming up.
“I know how important the Champions Trophy is in terms of experience at a world event because you get that experience for the next World Cup, especially with potentially younger players coming in. It’s very important we as players make sure we qualify.”