Moeen Ali has added his voice to the growing concerns about the future of Test cricket, saying that the low attendances in the recent Ashes had disappointed him, and hinting that he too may one day be tempted to follow the specialist white-ball route that Adil Rashid and Alex Hales have already headed down.
Moeen endured a poor Ashes series, averaging 19.88 with the bat and 115.00 with the ball as England slumped to a 4-0 defeat. But, he said, the overall experience of the campaign had been equally dispiriting.
"Yeah [I fear for Tests]. I feared in the Ashes actually," he said. "The crowds were quite disappointing. There were a couple of big days, but even when they [Australia] won the Ashes there weren't that many celebrating. That's when I thought, 'Actually, we're struggling a bit.'
"We're very lucky in England. After being all around the world and seeing the crowds everywhere else, we've got the best fans, we've got full houses most of the time. I feel fortunate in that way.
"It is a worry. Test cricket is the pinnacle. It is, in my opinion, where the best players play. You can really see who is the best. It's been a worry for a while but Australia really opened my eyes."
Moeen's take on the series, however, has been hotly disputed in the Australian media, given that the official figures for the Ashes made it the second-most attendance series in the country's history. A total of 866,732 fans attended the five matches, with only the 1936-37 Ashes, in which Don Bradman's Australia fought back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, attracting a bigger audience.
Almost 200,000 fans attended across the five days at Adelaide, the first day-night Test in Ashes history, and Moeen conceded that that format, along with a possible switch to four-day Tests, could have to be further embraced in the future.
"When the idea of four-day Tests came up I was against it because it's always been five days," he said. "But maybe it has to change. I don't really like the pink-ball Tests but maybe if it works and brings crowds in it has to be done."
On the subject of Hales and Rashid, and their switch towards becoming white-ball specialists, Moeen insisted that decision could only be good for England in the long term, and left the door open for a similar decision later in his career.
"I believe they can both play Test cricket and are good enough to but I also believe both of them have given themselves a chance to become real specialists and that can only be good for us [England]," he said. "There'll be more people to follow, in the next year or so."
"It's not really crossed my mind [to specialise in one format] ," he said. "But maybe in the future, down the line, just for your own body with so much cricket being played, maybe I might have to."