Moeen Ali was picked in the Test squad as a second spinner to Adil Rashid. @ AFP
Moeen Ali was picked in the Test squad as a second spinner to Adil Rashid. @ AFP

Former England offspinner Graeme Swann has backed Moeen Ali to lead  England’s charge during their tour of Sri Lanka next month. England will play five ODIs, one T20I and three Tests against beginning with the first one-day international on October 10 at Dambulla.

Moeen was picked in the Test squad as a second spinner to Adil Rashid and Swann feels that Ali should crush the thought of being an option and head to Sri Lanka confident and positive.

“Mo is still in that sort of mindset, ‘I’m No.2 spinner I want to bat No.3′. That is not the way to go,” Swann said at the launch of the Cricket World Cup Participation Plan. “If Mo turns up at the airport and says, ‘I’m going to go to Sri Lanka and be Man of the Series, I’m going to take loads of wickets and I’ll bat No.6 where the team needs me, not at No.3 where I’m not suited’, then I think England will win. It’s all about getting the best out of the spin bowlers who, let’s face it, when you go to the subcontinent are the major players.

“Yes, the Test series is a different form and it’s in a different country, but it seems with Mo that he’s so fragile that he needs confidence-boosting all the time. And I implore him to just come on, grab it with both hands. You’re a good bowler and stop worrying about being known as the No.2 spinner. It doesn’t make any difference, the ball doesn’t change shape because you’re the No.1 or 2 spinner, the pitch doesn’t change length, the same batsmen are batting. Nonsense,” he added.

Sri Lanka returned home from the UAE after crashing out of the 2018 Asia Cup in the first round and Swann believes now is the right time to face a team that has just undergone a change in leadership with Dinesh Chandimal taking charge.

“I think it is a big series because after being 4-1 (in the Test series against India] it’s very easy to rest on your laurels,” said Swann. “That will mean nothing if they don’t go well against, let’s face it, a massively out-of-sorts Sri Lanka team. They’ve had a stinker of a time at the Asia Cup and this is a very good time to play them. I don’t think we’ve got the resources to go out there and really challenge them if we don’t believe we have, because I don’t believe the spinners are in the right mindset.”

However, whatever be the results in Sri Lanka, Swann reckoned England are on track with their preparations ahead of the ICC World Cup next year.

“I think from a one-day point of view, with the World Cup coming here next year, we couldn’t be in a better place at the minute because the one-day series against India proved to us that we could beat India in England and come back from a pretty slow start to the series as well,” he said. ”And Eoin Morgan is undoubtedly the best man for the job as skipper. He has that team really believing they can do anything from any situation and England are favourites.”