Which cracks will England’s Polyfilla Moeen Ali be asked to fill in the T20 World Cup semi-final

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England could shuffle their team in all sorts of different ways to cover for the absence of Jason Roy. The only thing we can be certain of is that no matter who opens, it will mean Moeen Ali being asked to do something different.

This is, in fact, not strictly correct, because being asked to do something different kind of implies there was a default option in the first place. So far, in five matches this tournament, Moeen Ali has opened the bowling and not bowled at all, and he’s batted at four, six and three.

The oddity here is that Eoin Morgan has consciously deployed him as an opening bowler, rather than giving everyone else their jobs first and then seeing what bits and bobs still need tidying up afterwards. That’s how England have generally used Moeen Ali down the years – as an experienced and knowledgeable odd job man who they’ve kept on retainer.

Somewhat surprisingly, Moeen has never actually opened the batting for England in T20s. This therefore seems like a very straightforward way of replacing Roy and also ticking yet another box. They probably won’t do that though. It’s a bit obvious. More likely someone else will be promoted up the order and then another person will come into the middle order and Moeen will slide into whatever gap opens up, like in one of those sliding tile puzzles.

This is of course all second nature to Moeen these days. Speaking earlier this week, he casually threw in a plural.

“The confidence is high and I just feel like a big part of the team. I’ve got important roles and I’m really happy with my game.”


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  1. DIY XI? Go on then.

    Chris Nail
    Sandrew Strauss
    Ikean Bell
    A B&Q De Villiers
    Flat pack Russell
    Gerpaint Jones
    Polyfilla DeFreitas
    Spanner Peterson
    Rawl plug Lewis
    Shelf Valentine
    Drill Tufnell

    A bit bowling-heavy, and two keepers is a luxury. But they’d give it a bloody good go, before getting a proper man in to clean up the mess.

    1. I fancy a nice stroll around Lord’s visiting the DIY honoured players’ stands…after entering through the W G Grease gate, obviously:

      Gubby Allen-head
      Plum Slate Warner
      Dennis Artificial Grass Compton
      Build Edrich

      1. In honour of today’s semi-final:

        Glenn Phillips-head
        Mowing Morgan
        Mark Woodwork
        Plane Williamson
        Adrill Rashid
        Trent Bolt
        Liam Living Room
        Frustration Roy

  2. The opening bowler role is notable, but – and I’m trying not to sound like a curmudgeon here – is there really much difference between batting at 3, 4, 5 or 6 in T20?

    Maybe batting at number 3 is slightly difference because of the possibility of facing the second ball of an innings, but 4 to 6 seem more or less interchangeable.

    I am genuinely surprised that Moeen has never opened the batting for England in T20 though – for a while it seemed like everyone in the country was given an opportunity to do that, like National Service or being in the Sugababes.

    1. I meant to say ‘slightly different’ rather than ‘slightly difference’ there.

      I am choosing to blame the early hour and the return of work-based intercity travel for that, rather than face up to the possibility of my own incompetence – facing up to the possibility of one’s own incompetence is really not the done thing these days.

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