Few England players have deployed the long handle as delightfully as Moeen Ali. But which element is the more lovely – his backlift or his follow-through?
Like all sentient humans, we make a point of devoting one day each month to appreciation of Brian Lara’s backlift. A byproduct of this is that we sometimes find ourself pondering the best of the rest. And that’s how we ended up watching a bunch of videos of Moeen Ali slogging fours and sixes.
We’re not quite sure where Moeen Ali’s ranks in the pantheon of backlifts, but it’s pretty high up when it comes to England players.
We can think of a few other memorable ones – Paul Collingwood simply not bothering or Jos Buttler’s intimidatingly mechanical thing, which is kind of like one of those slightly-too-fast-moving robots they use to build cars – but it’s hard to think of a nicer one.
But then as we were watching Moeen’s velvety annihilation, it occurred to us that sometimes his follow-through was just as majestic. And then we thought, ‘which is the more majestic?’
Now this is a dumb question because what we’re basically doing is comparing Point A to Point B when the transportation of the entity from A to B is the truly important bit. That’s where the real magic lies; that ostensibly simple journey that must nevertheless overcome all manner of challenges and obstacles, such as attrition, gravity, mischief, calamity, incompetence, erosion, contraction, expansion and buffoonery.
It is always difficult to get from A to B. But we’re assessing after the fact here, once such a journey has already successfully been made. In that scenario, which is better, Moeen Ali’s backlift or Moeen Ali’s follow-through? Let’s compare these two key elements bookending the structural dynamics of flow.
The classic Moeen Ali backlift
Yeah, okay, maybe technically a backswing, but can we please not get into that? Focus instead on the potential energy; the unignorable announcement of the honeyed whiplash that is to come.
Moeen Ali’s club to cow corner follow-through
Not his finest follow-through – it collapses just a touch towards the end – but we do like the raised front foot which clearly indicates there was never any intention of keeping this one down.
Moeen Ali’s spin-slogging backlift
This is a bit squattier and less satisfying as a result. However…
Moeen Ali’s spin-slogged follow-through
Just look at that. And he isn’t even finished yet.
That, friends, is a follow-through.
Moeen Ali’s patient backlift
The starting point for this one can be seen in the still at the top of this article. We wanted to include this shot as well though to show how close the ball gets before Moeen starts conveying bat from A to B. This was off South Africa’s Andile Phelukwayo, who is not particularly quick, but is also not a spinner.
Moeen Ali’s straight bat follow-through
And this is where he ends up. Phwooar.
Just look at the geometry of it.
That follow-through is well fit.
We’re swayed by the variety and panache of Moeen Ali’s follow-throughs, but then surely part of the allure of the backlift is that there is a follow-through still to come.
We can’t separate them. You can’t move from A to B without A or B. You need both.
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