Ashes 2015: Moeen Ali 'not too fussed' about facing Aussies - or their No 1 batsman

The all-rounder was England's star performer with both bat and ball

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The Independent Online

Moeen Ali credited Ben Stokes with putting England in the ascendancy in a tight first Test here after he took the late wicket of Adam Voges.

Moeen was England’s star performer with both bat and ball, scoring 77 and taking the vital wickets of the world’s  No 1 batsman, Steve Smith, and Australia’s captain, Michael Clarke.

But after England finished the day leading by 166 runs with five Australian wickets remaining, the former opener-turned-lower-order batsman switched the praise to his fellow all-rounder Stokes.

“I think we’re ahead,” Moeen said. “That last wicket put us into the pole position a bit more. A couple of wickets with the new ball and, hopefully, we can get these guys out a bit cheaper tomorrow.”

Moeen took an aggressive approach from the outset as England, who had been reduced to 43 for 3 the previous day, added a further 87 runs to their overnight tally to reach 430.

For Moeen, it was a third Test fifty to go with his one century, but he insisted a starring role in his inaugural Ashes Test would not rank as his career highlight to date as he proved undaunted by the series’ rich history.

“Catching that catch against New Zealand was probably my best day and winning the game there [in the first Test at Lord’s in May],” he said. “I’m not too fussed if it’s the Ashes or who we’re playing against, I just try to go out and play as I can each game.”

Australia enjoyed a strong start at 129 for 1 when Smith, who has been in stunning form over the past 12 months, came down the wicket to Moeen, misjudged a ball he drifted down the leg side and skewed a catch to Alastair Cook.

Moeen said he had adopted a limited-overs approach: “He kept using his feet at me so I went into one-day mode at his hip and he got into a bit of a mess. He’s a very good player of spin, very aggressive, he can take you down but also give you a chance. I’m always telling myself I’m one ball from getting a wicket. I’m not too fussed about what he’s done before, I’m just trying to take wickets.”

Moeen added a second scalp with an excellent caught-and-bowled as Clarke tried to hit the ball down the ground.

Chris Rogers had set a Test record of seven straight fifties without converting any into a century as he was caught behind by Jos Buttler off the paceman Mark Wood on 95.

Rogers admitted: “They’re probably in a happier position at the moment. I think the wicket will possibly deteriorate. We have to work hard on our runs and maybe get a lead but that’ll be hard for us.”

The 37-year-old has announced plans to retire at the end of the series and rued his switch to an aggressive approach, which accounted for his departure and that of his fellow top-order batsmen on a relatively benign wicket.

“I chose to be positive at that stage but in hindsight I should have got my head down and kept going the way I had,” he said. “But when I sat down I thought there’s still a lot of unfinished business for me. Hopefully, that drives me for the rest of the series.”

The other main talking point was Cook being hit in the groin at slip, after which he left the field for 40 minutes. Rogers said: “I was trying not to laugh. It’s an unfortunate injury but, when I saw Joe Root laughing, I thought ‘he’s OK’. Apparently it was a sickening sound.”