Should England persist with Moeen Ali?

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Cricket - Investec Test series - England v India - Ageas Bowl Cricket Ground, Southampton, England
Photo by Sarah Ansell

It’s not how, it’s how many. That’s what they say of run-scoring. Does the same apply to wicket-taking?

Moeen Ali is actually England’s second-highest wicket-taker in this Pakistan series. He has taken seven wickets at 32.28, which is eminently respectable. He has also conceded near enough five runs an over, which is not.

But does it matter? To succeed in Test cricket, you must find a way of conquering whatever is thrown at you. At the moment, Pakistan’s batsmen are choosing to throw the kitchen sink at Moeen and thus far he has found a way to deflect it. No mean feat. Kitchen sinks are heavy.

If a certain proportion of Moeen’s wickets are essentially ‘caught slogging’ then that is simply a reflection of how Pakistan are approaching their batting. If the tourists refuse to milk him and are instead hell-bent on exsanguinating him, all he can really do is operate within that scenario – something he seems to be doing effectively.

Thus far, Moeen has been able to afford conceding a few sixes for each wicket. The percentages would therefore appear to be in his favour.

So are Moeen’s returns acceptable, or do England fans believe that he’s soon going to experience something akin to a Bryce McGain debut?


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  1. In keeping with a recent Betteridge-busting ‘are seagulls drunk on flying ants?’ headline, I’m going to answer ‘yes’. Not least because he’s a source of much merriment on the terraces and I can’t see his replacement bringing as much mirth. Unless it’s Monty, of course.

  2. Yes.

    The issue surely is that England needs more than just Moeen Ali in the spin department on proper turning pitches.

  3. Someone should coin a law for how being overlooked by the selectors makes you infinitely more attractive in the eyes of the media, only for them to slag you off when you do get picked.

    Hick’s law.

    1. Hick’s Law is already a thing. You know the phrase – insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result? Well it’s that, but extrapolated to twenty. The term Hick’s Law for this was coined by Mark Ramprakash in an attempt to head off the creation of Ramps’ Law.

  4. This article has way too many facts. There’s even a fact about the weight of kitchen sinks. That’s fact overload, that is, factageddon, a complete factastrophe.

    If we are to make a sensible decision about Moeen, we need to do so in complete factual darkness, in a facuum. On this basis I say keep Moeen in the team, because that is the status quo. Never go against the Quo.

    Everyone here might have concluded exactly the same thing, but by using facts to decide you have taken away any possible future smugness about being right.

  5. It would be quite possible to bring in Rashid, or even a specialist, non-all-rounder spinner, in place of one of the batsmen rather than dropping Moeen. Particularly if in the long run both Stokes and Woakes are going to be in the team.

    There doesn’t really seem a lot of point having a guy with a top score of 169 ending up batting at number 10 in your order. If I were an underperforming England batsman right now, I’d be a bit worried about my place.

    1. Don’t think management will do anything so radical as to play two spinners, but it really ought to be an option. Must be tempting to have an offie/leggie combination.

      1. Moreover, this is one of those very rare moments in history when you could play an offie/leggie combination without having to make a deep sacrifice on the batting or pace bowling front to fit them in.

      2. I’m a big fan of two spinners, especially if you can have an offie/leggie combo. The worry is that Moeen might not actually be a spinner, but rather a batsman who can bowl a bit of spin. If that is the case – as it is beginning to look – it doesn’t necessarily mean he ought to be dropped – but he will need to be able to hold down a place as a batsman primarily. I’m remain unconvinced he’s a test class batsman but given that Vince looks absolutely bobbins where’s the harm in giving Moeen a run in the top six to prove himself/disprove himself and picking Rashid as a spinner?

      3. Might be a moot point with Stokes’ injury though. Are the selectors bold enough to lose the extra seamer though? Rashid for Stokes makes the most sense.

  6. England are touring Bangladesh and India in the winter. Any spinners you pick will have to be with an eye on these tours.

    England won the last series in India with Swann and Panesar taking 37 wickets between them and Anderson backing them up with 12. I can see Anderson taking more, but I don’t see any Swann/Panesar replacements that will make up the numbers.

  7. I hate to infect this discussion with yet more facts, but the theory that Moeen and Adil are not good enough to win England test matches in Asian conditions is, I believe, based on false premises.

    Yes, England failed miserably in the UAE, losing 2-0 to Pakistan, but that was simply because the batsmen couldn’t cope with Yasir Shah and therefore the spinners didn’t get the chance (in the two matches Yasir played) to apply any pressure.

    In the one match in which Yasir played, the Moeen/Adil combination 2nd dig nearly snatched victory from the jaws of a bore draw:

    Personally, I also think that Adil has kicked on since last winter; certainly his white ball bowling has impressed me these last few months.

    In short, the only logical spin twin combination for me this winter is Moeen/Adil.

    The debate should be about the third spinner/reserve spinner(s) in my view.

    1. I meant of course, “in the one match in which Yasir didn’t play“…

      …back to the day job.

  8. Moeen Ali is a young talented bowler, he is an asset to England team in shorter format of cricket. He can open innings and can be used as a hitter in T20. His performance in longer format is not bad either considering his allround ability.

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