Moeen Ali smashed three sixes in his brisk innings of 67 runs © Getty Images
It was a gem of an innings from Moeen Ali considering how his fellow teammates batted for most part of the innings at Edgbaston. Moeen has not just cemented his place but also taught a lesson or two ahead of the ICC World Cup 2015. Abhijit Banare highlights them.
With all the debate over England’s approach facing spin, it finally forced them to include a certain Moeen Ali. Though it shouldn’t be a surprise but Moeen’s inclusion was more about adding spin to England’s bowling attack and perhaps add some solidity to the batting. What really was baffling in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) was the exclusion of James Tredwell after all the talk of even Edgbaston offering turn. Well, in the end result Tredwell’s presence wouldn’t have mattered considering the shoddy performance of their batsmen. Meanwhile, Moeen did teach a lesson or two to the selectors and his team.
The obsession with pace all-rounders: Moeen’s absence from the second and third ODI was largely due to England’s preference to have a medium-pace bowling all-rounder over a
part-time spinner spin-bowling all-rounder. Tredwell, their regular spinner in ODIs isn’t a big turner but focuses on accuracy. This has been the shift in the way bowlers approach the limited overs matches. If Moeen has the ability to maintain the tidy line, it’s better to take the risk of using him as all-rounder than go with the medium-pace option who can be carted around.
What was so special about the innings? Moeen made a clear statement on two things. a) Having a good footwork against spinners is essential irrespective of what the pitch is doing. b) England is yet to learn that ODIs are not abridged version of Tests and you need to settle in on the move. Unlike the others who were focusing on sweep and reverse sweep, Moeen played clean strokes in front of the wicket. His uncomplicated style and not over thinking about the situation is something which others failed to do. Eoin Morgan and Joe Root are capable of what the left-hander did at Edgbaston if they play to their strengths than be overcautious. This is the kind of innings which Moeen can pull off on any track.
Finally, is Moeen a serious contender for World Cup? With that innings, England will look to him as a serious contender for the squad. In fact, the uncertainty over the batting set-up could mean that Moeen might even get a promotion to No 4 or 5 to up the ante. It’s good to have free-flowing players in the middle overs (something Eoin Morgan is known to do) like Suresh Raina for India. It’s the Test success which has made Moeen an important spin option. But in the end, he is a quality batsman England need in their set-up.
Contrary to the skepticism of the English media, all is not lost for England. They do have aggressive players like Alex Hales, Jos Buttler with Jason Roy and James Taylor still waiting in the wings. At the end of the day, Moeen’s batting clearly showed what is required for the team. The message is loud and clear. And they do have the talent to work upon the shortcomings with 12 ODIs to come before the marquee tournament begins. All that remains is whether the selectors are optimistic and prefer to make the changes required or let the old guard go through the motions.
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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)