Moeen Ali played his way into the England side as a batsman who could bowl a bit. He returns to Worcester as a bowler who can bat a bit, and disappointed to be overlooked by England for the one-day series against New Zealand.
Like the dutiful pro he is, Moeen is making all the right noises but the worry must be that in attempting to transform himself from a bit-part bowler to a frontline spinner, his primary function as a batsman is lost, which would be a disaster for his Ashes prospects this summer.
Moeen has been told to ready himself for the Test series against Australia by getting overs under his belt, yet gnawing away at his cricketing soul is his downgrading, in the England set-up at least, as a batsman, and a player who walks to the crease first wicket down for his county.
“It’s been challenging. I think people forget that I am a batsman. I’m still a top-order batter and obviously have had a few challenges with that as well. There’s a lot on my plate sometimes and I have to get both of them right,” he said.
“It’s tough [batting at No 8]. It’s not easy,” he adds. “It worked perfectly at Lord’s batting with [Alastair] Cook and [Jos] Buttler. When the guys below me come in I have to try to bat more positively. That’s not always easy if you are not in. Hopefully I can get used to it. I have spoken to Joe Root about how to bat with the tail, and to Jos, because he plays so well. I have to keep working at that.”
Moeen suffered more than most in the second Test defeat to New Zealand at Headingley, his inexperience in the Test arena with ball in hand ruthlessly targeted by the Kiwis. He was not alone in seeing the ball disappear, but lacked the knowhow to respond.
“I see myself as a batter who can bowl,” he stresses. “I do feel that I have the potential to be a good spinner because I feel like the ball comes nicely out of my hand and the shape is good. I just need to get more consistent.
“The thing with my batting is I know exactly when things aren’t going so well what I need to do, my go-to areas. With my bowling it’s not there yet. I don’t have the same thing. Hopefully I can get there.
“I’m disappointed not to be in the [England] one-day squad, but maybe it’s a good thing in a way to get some bowling under my belt [at Worcestershire]. It might be a bit difficult with Saeed Ajmal in the side as well. Hopefully I can still get a lot of overs in, but I would have loved to have been in the one-day side.”
England clearly did not believe enough in his bowling to risk his selection. Moeen admits to a loss of confidence after being carted around the park at Headingley in what was a resounding defeat. “I thought I bowled well in the first innings at Lord’s. Second innings Corey Anderson came after me and I didn’t bowl well to him. At Leeds I struggled.
“The conditions were very tough to bowl in. I had a few catches dropped, which could have turned things. It was windy and cold. I couldn’t feel my fingers for the first few overs I bowled. I haven’t got a lot of experience as a frontline bowler, a year of international experience and a few years at Worcester, but every time I bowl I feel I’m learning a lot about my bowling.”
Voges in charge with oldest debut century
Adam Voges rescued Australia on his Test debut, hitting 130 not out as the tourists recovered from 126 for 6 to make 318 all out against West Indies on the second day of the first Test in Dominica.
Voges, aged 35 years 243 days and appearing only because of a training injury to Chris Rogers, became the oldest player to score a Test century on his debut, eclipsing Zimbabwe’s Dave Houghton (35 years 118 days).
His display overshadowed that of West Indies leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, who took a career best 6 for 75. Bishoo bamboozled the Australian batsmen with prodigious turn on the dry Windsor Park pitch, but the rest of the West Indies attack was toothless as Voges and a battling display from the tail produced a first-innings lead of 170.Reuse content