Moeen Ali
Moeen Ali (AFP Photo)

England allrounder Moeen Ali has said that the current ODI side can lay claim to have been the best to play for the country only if they manage to win a World Cup trophy.

England are set to host the 12th edition of the ODI World Cup from May 30 and are a hot-favourites to lift a maiden title. They are three-time finalists, making it to the summit clash in 1979, 1987 and 1992 but ended up being the second-best.

After a disastrous World Cup campaign in 2015, the team has recalibrated its approach in limited-overs cricket which has seen them rise to the top of the pile in ODI rankings under Eoin Morgan.

“We can say we were the best ODI side to play for England but without a trophy, it will be difficult to say that,” Moeen said. “We have come close and we feel now is the time. We don’t feel we have to win it, it’s more ‘this is the time to win it’. We are an amazing side but we know this year is massive for us.”

It’s been a revival of sorts for Moeen as well who fell out of contention from England’s Test team before making a remarkable comeback in 2018, against India.

Selector Ed Smith’s comments on him not considered as the first-choice England spinner ‘hit him hard’ as he missed out the home series against Pakistan. After being recalled for the fifth and final Test against India last year, he took nine wickets in England’s 60-run victory in Southampton.

In the recently concluded three-match Test series in West Indies, Moeen disappointed with the bat but made up for it with an impressive performance with the ball, finishing with 14 wickets at 23.85.

“It [Smith’s remarks] hit me hard, well, it was disappointing. I felt like they were looking for someone else. I did need that break at the time but it spurred me on and I still had the belief. Things happen for a reason. Maybe if I’d been picked versus Pakistan I wouldn’t have bowled well but I came back against India fresh, scoring runs and taking wickets, and I felt at the top of my game.”

Moeen now has 177 Test scalps which is the fourth best among England spinners behind Jim Laker, Graeme Swann and Derek Underwood.

“I feel like I belong, people might think I don’t because they think I’m not a proper spinner but when you go past some of the greats, for me, I think ‘Maybe I am a good spinner. I must have done OK to get that many wickets’,” he said.