Tag: Moeen Ali (page 2 of 3)

Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad follow by example

With their feisty batting in the morning and a pair of wickets each, Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad truly delivered non-captains’ performances.

This is what good team members do. They set an example for the captain to follow. It’s like they always say: he who leads the leader slightly reduces the duration of the group’s journey by arriving early.

Yes, they do always say that.

Broad’s batting is now a perfect combination of timing and terror, with exquisite back foot drives bubbling atop a constant undercurrent of jeopardy. His innings are so much more enjoyable for being so fragile.

Moeen Ali’s batting is not dissimilar, although the general experience is dreamier and the end more sudden. Where Broad is keen that you never forget his dismissal is an everpresent danger, Moeen only intermittently reminds you that his is a possibility.

Other events of the day were South Africa going after Liam Dawson a bit (because why wouldn’t you?) and an ICC announcement that Kagiso Rabada would serve a one-match suspension after becoming the first person in the history of the world to instruct Ben Stokes to fuck off.

Got some random job that needs doing? Maybe see if Moeen Ali fancies stepping in

Photo by Sarah Ansell

If you have a problem, if no-one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can ask Moeen Ali to do the job.

He’ll probably say yes.

“Hey Moeen, fancy being an international spin bowler?”

“Yeah, all right.”

“Hey Moeen, great bowling. And great batting in the middle order as well – really dynamic. Do you maybe fancy opening in one-dayers?”

“Yeah, all right.”

“Cracking stuff. Really cracking stuff. Thing is – and I feel a bit awkward saying this because you’ve done really well; don’t for one minute think this reflects on you – but do you maybe fancy batting at eight? Don’t take it as a demotion. It’s more that the other guys can’t seem to bat at eight. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but it does seem to be the case. And you’ve been so adaptable – really just coped with whatever we’ve asked you to do, so…?”

“Yeah, all right.”

“Great stuff with the batting at eight, Mo. Great stuff. Now this is a bit of an odd one – we know you’ve never opened in a first-class match before – but do you maybe fancy opening in Tests?”

“Yeah, all right.”

“Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And, er, how about going back to seven and eight for a bit afterwards and then maybe we can ink you in at five for the winter.”

“Yeah, all right.”

“Okay, so obviously we did want to keep you at five for a while, but the thing is there’s been a few injuries and things, so in this match could you maybe bat at four in the first innings and three in the second?”

“Yeah, all right.”

“Great. I mean really great. We don’t want to mess you about or anything. You’ve really coped admirably with everything we’ve asked you to do and we know it’s not fair to keep messing you about. Ultimately, we want to allow you to get settled in one position. Role definition is very important in this England team. One thing though, er – how are you with spreadsheets? I think I’ve mucked up one of the formulas in this one and I can’t work out what I’ve done. You couldn’t take a quick look, could you? There’s also a problem with the central heating at Loughborough if you could check that out at some point? Also we need someone to make a few hotel bookings.”

“Yeah, all right.”

“Great stuff, Mo. We really value your ability to uncomplainingly turn your hand to literally bloody anything.”

At least Moeen Ali made 99 not out

Moeen Ali and Joe Root
Imagine that today is exactly like today only Moeen Ali made a duck. There, you see – things could be slightly worse.

This isn’t so much a ‘glass half full’ attitude as a ‘there’s still something in there, I’m sure – maybe if I tip the glass the right way for long enough the minuscule droplets will gather and form something visible in the corner’ attitude.

You work with what you have. An increasingly polluted world continues spinning. As do R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, for England have managed to bat out a full day of Test cricket.

Big first innings and a game that accelerates alarmingly as it approaches its denouement. That’s our prediction.

Predictions are for fools, of course, but there are so many fools these days that the addition of another one won’t tip the balance.

Joe Root made a hundred, incidentally.

Seven things we learned from England v Pakistan


Via Sky Sports

Via Sky Sports

We’ve been trying to provide some sort of pithy and insightful summary of the Test series for 24 hours now, but it’s not really happening. We’ll instead content ourself with a vague collage of observations. If these are our workings-out, maybe you can provide the conclusion yourself.

Specialists and all-rounders

If you need someone to bat at seven or bowl right-arm fast-medium, England are spoilt for choice. However, if you want a specialist batsman, a fast bowler or a spinner, you’d be better off looking to the tourists.

England had more batsmen, but fewer effective specialist run-scorers. Despite greater numbers, they also had less diversity in their bowling attack.

If Moeen Ali could avoid being clattered for six…

Moeen emerged from the series with a better strike-rate than almost all the specialist bowlers. Blind yourself to the rate at which he concedes runs and he’s a very effective spinner. His stellar batting is an excellent distraction, but not quite blinding.

James Anderson has lost a quarter of a yard of pace

We don’t normally take claims that bowlers have ‘lost their nip’ too seriously because pace often varies from one match to the next. The difference with Anderson is that he said himself that he was down on pace in the second Test and then didn’t really seem to recover it. If he can retain a viable bouncer, he’ll probably be okay. Pace isn’t everything – but it is something.

Beware the out-of-form old pro

Younus Khan’s had it. Look at him. Look at the state of him.


Beware the conquered leg-spinner

Yasir Shah hasn’t posed a threat since Lord’s. He doesn’t spin it. England have worked him out.


Looking good and being effective are different things

Shivnarine Chanderpaul could have told you that, but James Vince has been trying to prove it from the opposite direction. We feared for Vince’s chances before he played and we haven’t seen a huge amount to reassure us since then. Nor has anyone else. County cricket’s who-saw-a-future-England-player-first-and-championed-his-cause-the-most competition will have to forget about this and move on. Do yourselves a favour though – don’t claim that a player ‘looks good’.


The last time Pakistan toured, cricket fans were left feeling sick and unenthusiastic about the game. Pakistan themselves were left a fractured mess. This time they leave with fans more enthused about the game and with a level of solidity to their cricket that it is hard to remember their ever having had before.

Misbah-ul-Haq is an alchemist who can turn middle-age into youth and chaos into order.

The beard that smeared – Moeen Ali enjoys the evening session

Cricket - England v India - Fourth Investec Test - Day Two - Old Trafford, Manchester

Smeared with exquisite timing and grace, we should say. It was poetic smearage. Smearage without breaking sweat. Smearage that involved all moving parts working in perfect harmony to pan the ball to the fence.

Morning session

It’ll be interesting to read the reports about this morning’s play. Was Alex Hales unlucky after hitting the ball in the air towards a fielder? Was Alastair Cook unlucky to completely mishit the ball, propelling it into his own stumps?

What happened after that was easier to interpret. Joe Root did a James Vince impression and James Vince was sufficiently unimpressed by it that he immediately felt compelled to demonstrate how edging behind should be done.

Perhaps England felt threatened by the looming presence of the mace. No-one seems to want the damned thing.

Afternoon session

Gary Ballance’s dismissal clearly belonged in the morning session, both thematically and because it came in only the 28th over.

Pakistan were now so dominant that mace-spurning duties switched to them, allowing England to counter. Jonny Bairstow did his usual hunched biffing and Moeen Ali did nothing of the sort, nonchalantly flicking the ball to and over the ropes as if long hours in the gym were the most pointless activity in which any wannabe big-hitting batsman could ever indulge. He loves to feel bat on ball.

Evening session

Jonny Bairstow got a bit ahead of himself and thought it was Pakistan’s turn to be on top. This meant England’s two finest batsmen were now at the crease. Chris Woakes joined Moeen in their favoured pastime of batting sumptuously until it was time for the famously feckless momentum to yet again shift.

Woakes was out, just when it seemed he was entirely without failings and then Broad departed two balls later. Moeen Ali didn’t care. He just carried on whopping the ball wherever he chose. He just loves these evening sessions for which Pakistan’s bowlers seemingly don their heaviest shoes.

Moeen was last man out, which meant England got to bowl in what we’re now going to name the night session on the grounds that it only began after the scheduled close of play.

Night session

With England having scored a somewhat ambiguous 328, no-one was quite sure which team was most at risk of being a mace recipient. Probably India, so Stuart Broad took a wicket.

Should England persist with Moeen Ali?

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?

Turns out we’re really rather delighted that Moeen Ali made a daddy hundred

Cricket - England v India - Fourth Investec Test - Day Two - Old Trafford, Manchester

A daddy hundred’s anything over 150, right? Sounds about right. Graham Gooch should get in touch to correct us if we’re wrong.

Sometimes it’s not entirely obvious how you feel about a player until you’ve seen what they’ve done without actually watching it happen. We were out all day and when we thought to check the Test score, Moeen Ali had made a hundred. We were somewhat unexpectedly delighted by this.

Checking the score gives you a purer experience. You don’t get chance to come to terms with what’s happened. The facts just hit you and you’re forced to react instantaneously. Turns out we really like Moeen Ali.

We sort of feel pleased for Chris Woakes in a ‘good on him’ kind of way as well. There’s a bit less clarity on that one, we’ll be honest.

They’re playing Hashim Amla’s song


During Sunday’s play, the England and South Africa supporters did a duet, trading verses of their respective Moeen Ali/Hashim Amla songs which both employ the tune of No Limits by 2 Unlimited.

It was really rather entertaining – although they persisted for so long that we can still hear it in our mind’s ear well over 24 hours later. Watch it for yourself. We especially like the bit where the South Africa fans all duck down and bob rhythmically when it’s the Moeen Ali verse.

If you watch the video, you can clearly see that Hashim Amla enjoyed it. Perhaps this was the moment when he shrugged off the despondency that afflicted his batting throughout 2015.

This is not good news for England, because history tells us that once he’s up and running Hashim Amla WILL NOT GO AWAY.

Hotwiring Jonny Bairstow

Despite recent media coverage, Alex Hales is not actually in competition with Moeen Ali. He is, we’d guess, competing with Jonny Bairstow. Alastair Cook wants plenty of bowlers in 40 degree heat which means Adil Rashid will finally get to play a Test in the UAE. In which case who misses out? Well if Hales opens, it’s probably Jonny Bairstow.

With all the talk about restructuring county cricket, we’ve seen a lot of ‘don’t mess with the County Championship – it’s what’s produced all of these England players’ type articles. It’s not a bad competition and indeed it has given rise to some good players. The thing is, it’s impossible to know how good they would have been had they been playing in a different competition.

It’s striking that England aren’t entirely sold on Jonny Bairstow and we’re sure that must say something about domestic cricket. We wouldn’t be surprised if he were left out of the first Test team and yet he averaged 92.33 with five hundreds in the Championship this year.

If a 26-year-old scores a thousand runs in your domestic competition and scores at 4.5 runs an over, shouldn’t you be desperately trying to force him into your team, rather than allowing him to slip out of it? If Bairstow were a car, England would drive around in him but would routinely leave him unlocked and not shed too many tears if he were stolen.

Cameron Boyce fails to purchase sourdough

Do you know how far it is from Australia to England? Miles. Absolutely bloody miles. Do you know how long it takes to complete the trip? Ages. Absolutely bloody ages.

Cameron Boyce flew from Australia to England for this match. He bowled one over. It went for 19. He didn’t bat. He’s going home now.

We become enraged if we walk down to Tesco Express and they don’t have any sourdough. That’s maybe a half-hour round trip and we only embark on it if we’re also going to a second shop for something else. This is even worse than that because the experience has not merely been unproductive, it’s been counterproductive. It would be like arriving home at the end of your failed sourdough mission only to discover you’d trod in dog shit and also lost a fiver.

England won the match, largely off the batting of Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali, both of whom made 70-odd. Morgan’s had a month off and reckons it’s been the perfect preparation, leaving him fresh and keen to get stuck in. In contrast, Moeen Ali’s been slaving away, but doesn’t seem to care. Before the match he said: “If there was training every day, it would be the best. If it was games every day, it would be the best. I love it.”

So do cricketers need more rest or regular cricket? Maybe, just maybe, it depends on the individual.

There’s a possibility Moeen might open in the UAE in October. We hope he doesn’t. When Alastair Cook played one-day cricket, he lost the ability to leave the ball with conviction. If Moeen opens in a Test match, he might lose the ability to scythe at wide balls with absolutely no thought for the consequences.

Scything at wide balls with absolutely no thought for the consequences is very much what Moeen’s batting is all about. Commentators always marvel at ‘checked drives’ and ‘little more than a forward defensive but it’s gone for four’. Giving it a right big yahoo with the bat is going out of fashion and Moeen’s willow describes a bigger arc than anyone’s. Long may it continue.

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