It was a mixed summer for England all-rounder Moeen Ali with the Worcestershire man playing a key role in the team’s World Cup winning campaign before being dropped from the red-ball squad after a poor display in the first Ashes Test.
Having taken a short break from the five-day format, Moeen is now eyeing a comeback to the England Test squad for the year-end tour of South Africa.
While Moeen is ready to put his recent Ashes omission behind him, England’s former spin consultant Saqlain Mushtaq has backed the 32-year-old to come back strongly at international level.
“To be honest, he just played one Test match in the Ashes,” Saqlain told Sport360 at the Kings’ Cricket Academy in Dubai.
“Because of the combination of the team, they gave him a rest. You can’t say he has lost his form because of one game. Last year, he was the highest wicket-taker for England. He did really well for England. Just for one game, he didn’t bat well or bowl well either.”
Saqlain has played a key part in Moeen’s rise with the England off-spinner crediting the coach for improving his bowling drastically during the 2017 home series against South Africa. Moeen would go on to become the first all-rounder in history to claim 25 wickets while also scoring 250 runs with the bat in the four-match series against the Proteas.
Saqlain believes England’s white-ball focus for the 2019 World Cup played its part in Moeen’s poor showing in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
“After the World Cup, England haven’t had the right time to prepare for the Ashes. Their focus what on white-ball cricket so that’s where the flow was,” the former Pakistan off-spinner said.
“Moeen Ali is that kind of a player who needs some mileage in his bowling when switching from white-ball to red-ball cricket and vice-versa.
“There wasn’t enough time in between for him to do that. But I think he’s a very fine player and one of the key players in the England squad. He’s a very good batsman who can bowl very well. He did really well in Sri Lanka, he did well against India (2018) and he took a hat-trick against South Africa. He scored important runs too. He’s a fine player and I am sure he will bounce back strongly.”
While Moeen has at times been bogged down by the expectations of performing with both bat and ball for the country, Saqlain has urged him to enjoy the sport and play his natural game.
“The simple philosophy is that we should let him play his natural game. We shouldn’t be saying that you just go and smack it or you should just concentrate on your bowling,” Saqlain said.
“You should play your natural cricket and should justify your talent and potential. He should enjoy cricket in that way. I always told him when I was with him, you have everything to perform at the highest level, you should go out and enjoy cricket by playing your natural game.
“Don’t complicate yourself. Don’t think that I need to play a particular brand of cricket. Just go out, relax and enjoy cricket with your natural flair.”
While Moeen will hope to be on the plane to South Africa later this year, the all-rounder will arrive on UAE shores next month after being named as Team Abu Dhabi’s icon player for the 2019 edition of the T10 League.
Know more about Sport360 Application
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has called an emergency meeting of its directors following the strike called by the country’s top players including skipper Shakib Al Hasan.
Bangladesh’s upcoming tour of India is under threat after the top national team players underlined an 11-point demand to the BCB on Monday. The players have downed tools in the ongoing National Cricket League and have threatened to suspend all cricket activities until their demands are met by the Bangladesh board.
Most of the demands are financial in nature with the players expressing their dissatisfaction with the distribution of the revenue generated by the BCB.
With only a few days remaining for the tour of India to get underway, the BCB has been forced into action with its directors holding an emergency meeting on Tuesday.
BCB is lucky players didn’t demand more, which they could have. Many other boards pay their players a percentage of their turnover/revenue as well as sponsorship and ICC money.— Mohammad Isam (@Isam84) October 21, 2019
Bangladesh cricketers get very little and asked for a little more. I think they have every right.
Meanwhile, former BCB supremo Saber Hossain Chowdhury has backed the players on their decision while accusing the current administration of indulging in corrupt practices.
“BCB is only national sporting body in the world that promotes institutionalised matchfixing and corruption,” he said on his Twitter account.
“Flagged this issue many times myself,” he said.
“We all know the sorry state of our first, second and third division cricket,” star all-rounder Shakib had stated in his press-conference in Dhaka on Monday.
“A lot of the times we know which team will win and which team will lose before the match starts,” he added.
Bangladesh are slated to play three T20Is, followed by two Tests, on their tour of India with the first clash schedule to take place on November 3. The pre-tour training camp is supposed to get underway soon but Monday’s developments have thrown a spanner into the works.
Two overs was all it took for India to wrap up an emphatic 3-0 series clean sweep over South Africa, with the hosts clinching the final Test in Ranchi by a mammoth margin of an innings and 202 runs.
It was India’s biggest ever victory over the Proteas in the five-day format and it eclipsed their previous best winning margin of an innings and 137 runs which was attained in the second Test at Pune last week.
After what was a record 11th home Test series win on the bounce for India, we take a look at key players who shone brightest.
#DidYouKnow India's #WriddhimanSaha has the highest catch efficiency (96.9%) versus fast bowlers among all wicket keepers to have taken a minimum of 10 catches since 2017. Do you think he's the best wicket keeper in tests at the moment? #MGCricket #IndvSA pic.twitter.com/cU34M3Y8TF— MoneyGram Cricket (@MGCricket) October 15, 2019
The veteran wicketkeeper might have thought his Test career was as good as over as he watched his replacement Rishabh Pant register record tons in England and Australia last year.
With Pant stamping his mark, Saha’s career was most certainly at a crossroads coming into 2019, especially given his shoulder injury woes.
However, Pant’s patchy wicketkeeping skills reopened the door for Saha, who was handed his first Test appearance in more than 21 months and the 34-year-old grabbed his chance with both hands.
While he wasn’t required to do much with the bat after a prolific series for India’s top-order, Saha showed why he is one of the best glovesman in the world with a stellar display behind the stumps.
His stunning on-side catches in Pune and excellent handling of India’s spinners were just some of his highlights, with the senior man reaffirming his credentials as the first-choice wicketkeeper for home conditions at least.
The Karnataka opener had a promising debut Test series in Australia at the start of the year with two fifties in his three innings. However, all that good work was at the risk of being undone by a poor recent tour of the Caribbean where he averaged just a paltry 20.
Thankfully for Agarwal, not only did he show his Test credentials in his maiden series on home soil, but he did it in style as well. The right-hander finished only behind his opening partner Rohit Sharma in the series run-scoring charts with the help of 340 runs in four innings.
He registered his maiden Test ton in the series opener at Vizag and followed it up with an even more impressive double century in the Pune clash. With the way he has performed against the Proteas, the talented Prithvi Shaw will have to be content for a bench role when he returns after serving his ongoing suspension for a doping violation.
Umesh Yadav becomes the first Indian pace bowler to pick three or more wickets in five consecutive innings at home. #INDvSA— Umang Pabari (@UPStatsman) October 21, 2019
With Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami forging an impressive pace unit for India in their extended away cycle of 2018, Umesh Yadav was fast becoming the forgotten man. The pacer was not even picked in the initial squad for the South Africa series before an unfortunate injury to Bumrah handed him an unexpected recall.
Even then, Umesh had to contend with a spot on the bench in the first Test in Vizag but he pounced ferociously when his chance arrived in Pune. Making his first home Test appearance in nearly a year, the 31-year-old picked up a match-haul of six wickets in the second Test while throwing down just 21 overs in total.
Five wickets in just 18 overs followed in the latest Test in Ranchi with Umesh finishing the series with an outstanding bowling average of only 12.18. Even when Bumrah recovers from injury, Kohli will find it hard to ignore Umesh once again.
Nevertheless, it is the kind of headache the India skipper will not mind in what is turning out to be a golden period for India’s pace attack.
Rohit Sharma first Test series as opener:— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) October 22, 2019
Man of the match in 1st Test
Man of the match in 3rd Test
Man of the series
The sceptics were many for Rohit Sharma after the India limited-overs stalwart was given yet another comeback to the Test squad despite multiple failures in the past to establish himself in the red-ball format.
His dismissal for a duck by Vernon Philander in the pre-series warm-up clash only added further fuel to the critics’ fire. However, that all changed soon in the series opener with Rohit slamming twin tons in his debut as an opener in Vizag.
Feasting upon South Africa’s hapless spinners, the Mumbai man looked imperious in the India whites as he became the first batsman in history to register two centuries on his debut as an opener.
He failed to replicate that success in his only innings in the Pune Test but his reputation was only burgeoned after a maiden double ton in the final clash at Ranchi.
529 runs in total at an average of over 132 is no mean feat and, while tougher away tests will come in the future, Rohit has earned his stripes in the India red-ball setup for some time to come.