Moeen is potenti-Ali (sorry) the most significant newcomer to the England test (and ODI) teams in recent years. For the longest time have England craved a batsman who can bowl more than “part time” spin. It enables the easy selection of two spinners on turning tracks, and the option to always have a spinner – even when you don’t think you need one – on green seaming wickets, for example (though I personally loathe that view).
However, I don’t wish to talk him up right now – I aim to defend him for what I expect will be a very ordinary game for him – this, the second test vs the West Indies.
When he was first selected, he was under only a little pressure. He was batting well, and Cook barely bowled him. Genuine expectations of him, as a spinner, were low. And whenever he bowled a good ball people were surprised and happy. And the more he bowled the better he got. In the end, we all believed.
Then injury. And James Tredwell … a 100% bona fide spinner. Of considerable years and experience. Not flashy, but accurate and steady. And looks 300 years old. Almost. And he bowled terrifically well in the first innings, taking 4 for spit. BUT he “only” took one more wicket in the 2nd innings and was dropped – due to injury claim some.
This time Moeen was selected, on what would likely be a spinning track, with the expectation of bowling out the WI in their second innings when Tredwell couldn’t. To me this is wholly unfair. With this knowledge of replacing a genuine spinner in the team can come only pressure. And for what is, without question, the 2nd string to his bow.
I thought of penning this early on day, but because I’m lazy I didn’t get around to it until now (tea-time on day 4). Sadly – thus far – it doesn’t look good for our story’s hero. I’d not be surprised if this pressure (however unwittingly) causes his loose shot in the first innings and his run-out in the second. He is bowling a bit better in the 2nd innings, but I’ll not be shocked if Root (again) returns the better figures.
I hope I’m wrong and that Moeen can rise to the occasion but, for me, he’ll be a much better player if he is the 2nd spinner in the side (pick Ali AND Rashid) or the one spinner who is only called upon for smaller spells.
Remember when he looked like this?