Why Alex Hales and Moeen Ali would make a great one-day opening partnership

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This is going to come across as a gossamer-thinly-veiled plea for Alastair Cook to be given the old heave-ho, but it’s not. It’s literally just about Hales and Ali – Cook’s merely collateral damage. In fact let’s say he can bat at three. There’s still a large part of us that would really like him to turn things around because it would be funny.

So Hales and Ali then – why would they make such a good combination at the top of the order? There are four main reasons. Several are mundane and obvious, but taken together they make a decent case.

First of all, both are capable of scoring hundreds at quicker than a run a ball. Like pads and a bat, that ability is something a one-day opener simply has to have these days.

Second of all, both are proper batsmen. Ali has a spectacularly good Test hundred to his name while Hales has recently taken to mincing attacks in first-class matches as well as one-dayers. Unlike some one-day openers (read ‘outright sloggers’) they can cope with the new ball – or, more accurately in 50-over cricket, new balls.

Thirdly, one of them’s right-handed and one of them’s wrong-handed. Always good in a partnership.

Finally, they compliment each other well. “Nice beard,” says Hales. “Nice eyebrows,” says Ali.

No, wait, we mean they complement each other well. Speaking after his hundred the other day, Ali said he was basically happiest rushing to 50 and that he was still working out how best to play after that. In contrast, Hales is a surprisingly slow starter. A lot of pundits see him hitting sixes and note that he’s an opener and claim he’ll ‘get England off to a fast start’ but actually that’s typical scorecard-reading false-assumptionery. It’s not the way he plays. For Nottinghamshire, Michael Lumb provides the impetus and then Hales takes over once he’s set.

Unlike Moeen Ali, Hales becomes ever-more bludgeonny as his innings progresses. Fast-starting Ali will lift the pressure while Hales is getting his eye in and then, if they can stay together, Hales will return the favour when Ali slows.


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  1. Wise words, but will common sense prevail in the ECB?

    Just a second, did I just put the words wise and sense in the same sentence as the term ECB? What on earth was I thinking?

  2. I completely agree. Your point about Lumb’s role is something I’ve been banging on about to anyone who will listen (ie no-one).

    Ali and Hales is definitely the combination I want to see at the top of the order. And then, once Hales has proved us right, maybe he’ll be given his chance in the test team.

    Now, how do we get Bell out of the ODI team to make room for Taylor?

  3. Since I’ve adopted Kent, I think Rob Key should play. Bell has overstayed his welcome anyway. I propose the following line-up for England:

    1. The Eyebrow.
    2. The Beard.
    3. The Girl Who Is A Boy.
    4. The Boy Who Is A Man.
    5. The Adipose.
    6. The One With Too Many Initials.
    7. The Buttler. Or That Indian Guy.
    8. The Perennial Prick.
    9. The Beard II – Urination Unleashed.
    10. The Unused Vegetable.
    11. James Anderson.

    1. I’m so confused. Who are all these people? And why is Stuart Broad batting at number 3?

    2. I’ve got:

      1. Hales
      2. Moeen
      3. ?????
      4. Root
      5. Rob Key
      6. Morgan
      7. Buttler/Bopara
      8. Broad?
      9. Monty
      10. ?????
      11. Anderson

      Having adopted Hampshire myself, I think it’s high time for James Vince to get into the England side. Jimmy Adams as well. And Carberry never should have been dropped. That’s about all, I think.

    3. 3. Cook. I can see why people would also pick Broad in this category, but I felt safe that there’s no way someone would think of anyone other than little Stu at #8. KC has #10 right of course.

  4. Cook simply isn’t a good enough one-day batsman to warrant a place in the team. This has gone past opinion and into fact, and yet he remains.

    1. The curious thing is that Hales would also seem to be from the right sort of family, so Cook could be safely jettisonsed whilst still keeping the ECB types happy.

    2. But then who would captain? The captain needs to be from the right sort of family. In fact, his family must be the rightest sort of them all. Clearly, the lack of suitable captaincy replacements is the main problem here. If there was a non-Northern batsman from the right sort of family ready to take over, I’d be willing to be Cook would already be gone.

  5. I agree with the sentiments. But we should not make Cook a scapegoat for all of England’s ODI problems. That would be like making KP a scapegoat for Ashes whitewash down under.

    Englands fortunes in ODI have been on the downswing from the moment Gatting got out to an ill-thought/ill-executed reverse sweep. Imagine if he hadnt got out to the reverse sweep and Eng had won the 1987 world-cup, then possibly it could have been England which dominated world cricket for the next decade-and-a-half instead of aussies?

    Just a thought.

  6. If you jumble up the letters of COOK while at the same time replacing one or more of them with different letters, you get COCK. If you do the same thing with GILES CLARKE you get FAT OAF.

    I mention these facts because English cricket does seem to have a bizarre fixation with the specific embodiment of the role of England Captain. It’s like being the Queen or Neo from the Matrix or something – a job that confers a god-like status and which transcends everything the incumbent actually has to do. Alastair Cook wasn’t appointed, he was anointed. He can no more stop being England captain than Elvis can stop being The King.

  7. It’s not quite a question of the two being complementary, more one, in this case Moeen Ali ofc., being better at doing the same thing as the other. Perhaps it might make more sense to put them in at numbers 7 and 8 respectively, and then their partership can be a worse version of Darren Sammy and Andre Russell, while Ian Bell could start higher up the order and at least make some attempt to carry their bat to lead England to a victory.

    1. Whatever happened to Suave? Did he start to dress down once his ginger hero retired?

      I miss Suave, he was sweary. I miss everyone.

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