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Moeen Ali Says He Could Stay Away From England Test Cricket Until Next Summer

Moeen Ali says he’s made no decision as it relates a return to the England setup following his opting to play franchise cricket with Cape Town Blitz in the Mzansi Super League instead of taking to New Zealand with the rest of the national squad.

England made the trip to New Zealand for a two-test series, which kicks off in Mount Maunganui on Thursday, unfortunately without Ali in their ranks. Test captain Joe Root has hinted that the all-round left-handed batsman could return to the fold as soon as early as December for the South Africa tour but Ali has refused to put a timeline on things.

Root has said that, while England’s open to receiving the player back, the decision is Ali’s. He wants the 32-year-old in the right frame of mind to return to a test career that was halted when he was dropped midway through The Ashes during the summer.

Ali spoke to ESPNcricinfo this week, revealing that he’s been enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere around the franchise cricket scene and suggesting his England return could be pushed back to next summer’s rounds of Pakistan and the West Indies.

"I want to play at some stage but I haven't decided when or anything," he explained. "I'll just take it as it comes. Obviously Leachy [Jack Leach] is in the side and bowling really well, so I've also got to get back in the side as well.

"It could be South Africa, could be Sri Lanka [in March], it could be just the summer. There's no sort of timeframe on it. I'll be speaking to Rooty after the series in New Zealand, and to Chris Silverwood [England coach], and we'll have a bit more clarity and more idea about it then. But at the moment I'm not thinking about it too much."

Ali was asked whether he thinks he might feel regretful when England takes to the pitch on Thursday and assured that he won’t be, although he does miss playing for his country.

"I actually don't," he replied. "I'd obviously love to be there and playing Test cricket but at the stage I was at, I felt like I needed that time away from Test cricket, so I don't feel like I'm missing out. Obviously, I'm supporting them and I've been in contact with the players, but I'm just trying to enjoy my cricket and the franchise stuff.”

As it relates to cricket betting, New Zealand is the bookmakers’ favorites to win the test series at 11/10 odds that come from Ladbrokes, with England at 11/8. Bet365 has odds of 9/2 going on a draw. William Hill’s also offering odds on this match and has Kane Williamson to finish as New Zealand’s top batsman at 2/1 while Ross Taylor is at 10/3 and Tom Latham’s at 4/1. The bookies are also offering opportunities for fans to bet on the nation’s top bowler and have odds of 2/1 on Trent Boult, 11/4 on Tim Southee, and 3/1 on Neil Wagner.

Skybet has Root at 3/1 to claim the honor as top batsman for England, with Rory Burns close behind at 5/1. Dominic Sibley, Ben Stokes, and Joe Denly are all at 5/1. Meanwhile, Jofra Archer is at 9/4 to end the series as England’s top bowler with Betfred, who have Tim Southee at 12/5 and Stuart Broad at 5/2.