When Moeen Ali made his debut at Lord’s in the summer of 2014 against Sri Lanka, he had already been tipped for big things, both with the bat and the ball. What the hype was all about got more clear as the left-hander smacked Rangana Herath over mid-on in a manner that brought the memories of Saeed Anwar at his peak back.
In an inning that was more an exhibition of fearless batting combined with elegance with the odd involvement of nerves as you’d expect, Moeen showed what he was up to, at least with the willow. And his abilities to grind it out and dig in deep in Geoffrey Boycott-style were visible in his maiden test hundred days later at Headingley when he nearly earned England a draw.
Any doubts over his all-round credentials disappeared as well, as Ali went on to take 19 wickets against India across five test matches. Ever since, it’s been more a case of Moeen the opener, Moeen the lower-order batsman, Moeen the all-rounder or Moeen the bits-and-pieces Cricketer.
There’s been so much experimenting with the Worcestershire Cricketer that he’s beginning to lose the flair that first convinced the selectors to have him in the side on a regular spinner’s expense. The management did it with Joe Root and nearly ruined him, and the same has been happening with Moeen for as long as anyone can remember. One match he is an opener, the other a lower order batsman – ridiculous.
Thing is, England are yet to define him a definite role – whether they want him to score runs, or do they want him to be a bowling-all rounder or a proper all-rounder. And surprisingly, Ali isn’t the only such all-rounder who has been treated so irresponsibly. Ravi Bopara was finished the career of in the same manner as they never quite made a role clear to him.
Ben Stokes finds his name on the list too. Had it not been for Paul Farbrace, he’d still be punching lockers. Surely, England don’t want such a gifted Cricketer in Moeen Ali to lose all his confidence –the process has already begun –and end up losing his place in the side.
Someone needs to go and have a talk with Moeen, and make it very clear to him as to what they do want him to do – simple as that. Anyone and everyone knows the 28-year old can be an excellent all-rounder, so why not shape him up accordingly?
The helter-skelter nature of Moeen’s career threatens to suck all the potential out of him as he heads towards a crucial series against South Africa. The quicker the management is to react to his situation, the better it would be for both Ali and England.