Former England teammates Moeen Ali and Alastair Cook were involved in an exchange that straddled the line between awkward and humorous during BT Sport’s coverage of the opening day of the fourth Ashes Test at the SCG.
Conversation during the BT Sport coverage moved to Moeen’s experiences of being captained by Joe Root. Moeen, who played 37 of his Tests under the captaincy of Cook and the other 27 under Root, compared the styles of the two leaders, describing Root as having more of an “emotional attachment” with his players than his immediate predecessor.
“Cooky [Cook] would never give you throw downs,” said Moeen. “Rooty has a bit more of an emotional attachment with the players. He probably spends more time with the players.”
Responding to the apparent slight on his captaincy, Cook asked: “Are you just criticising my captaincy?
To which the off-spinning all-rounder said: “I am a little bit, yeah.” Moeen then explained how his bowling thrived under Root’s leadership while his batting returns were better under Cook.
“They’re [Cook and Root] both very different,” he added. “I probably did better with the bat…well, I did do better with the bat under Cooky, whereas with the ball, I was better with Rooty.”
At this point, Cook interjected with a tongue-in-cheek observation and question. “I’m just gonna say that I never dropped Mo. So he might have criticised me, but I never dropped him. How many times did Rooty drop you?”
Moeen responded: “Yeah, yeah, that’s true but he [pointing at Cook] batted me from 1-9 in my first year in international cricket.”
While Moeen did bat in every position from one to nine over the course of his Test career, he didn’t quite cover them all in the first year or so of Cook’s captaincy. That period of his career saw him open the batting, bat six, seven, eight and nine – there were no appearances between three to five in that time.
Cook light-heartedly justified the way in which he moved Moeen up and down the order, saying: “I was giving him a chance. I couldn’t work out whether he was a tailender or an opener so I tried to find the perfect role for him.”
Moeen then brought the discussion back to his original point. “Just to go back to my point,” he said. “Rooty was a little bit more involved with the players. Not that Cooky didn’t care, but I think Rooty is a bit more a ‘arm over the shoulder’ kinda guy.”
Cook finished the conversation, saying: “I’m not sure how to take this anymore. I’ve just come back from a nice holiday and I’ve walked straight into Moeen Ali off his long run!”