Versatile Moeen Ali is now a key figure for England

Rory Dollard 08:37 02/09/2015
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Influential: Moeen.

Moeen Ali’s versatility has helped make him a key part of England’s plans across all three formats, but the all-rounder admits he does not know what role he will be asked to perform on any given day.

Moeen opened the batting in this year’s World Cup, played as a specialist spinner and went in at number eight during the Ashes and made an unbeaten 72 at three in England’s narrow Twenty20 victory over Australia on Monday.

He was called on to bowl a solitary over in that match, but it was the most economical of the innings and included the crucial wicket of Glenn Maxwell.

Moeen’s ability to fill a variety of slots will be a priceless commodity as the rebuilding of England’s limited-overs game continues under coach Trevor Bayliss. But, with the one-day series against Australia due to get under way in Southampton from tomorrow, he is still unsure about his place in the batting order.

“I haven’t been told… I didn’t know I was going to play in Cardiff until the day before either, so I don’t have a clue,” he said. “I can bat from anywhere from one to 11 really… you’ve still got to try to smash it.

“Wherever the team wants me to bat, I will bat, and if that’s three then so be it. I have done it before so it is not a problem.”

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Moeen has a clear preference for opening up in limited-overs cricket, where he can take advantage of fielding restrictions and use the pace of the new ball to his advantage, but England are keen to give the explosive pairing of Alex Hales and Jason Roy a run at the head of the innings.

“Yes, I love opening the batting but if not then I’m still happy,” he said. “I think with the fielding restrictions it doesn’t really matter now but most of the time I enjoy the newer, harder ball because I don’t have to hit it as hard.”

Monday’s victory in Cardiff was Moeen’s first white-ball appearance since the disappointment of England’s World Cup campaign.

He did not feature in the exciting clashes against New Zealand earlier in the summer, with England preferring to leave him playing first-class cricket with Worcestershire as Ashes preparation. But he was an interested observer as a new-look squad made their names with some impressive series wins over the highly-rated Black Caps and was eager to join up with the group.

“I was playing the four-day stuff at the time but watching was very exciting and I wanted to be part of it,” Moeen said.

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