Summary of his performance so far:-
Moeen Ali has been an influential change in the England squad for the past couple of years now. A spinner all-rounder has been a rarity in English cricket, so the Worcester man was a breath of fresh air. He played his first game for England against West Indies in an ODI game back in 2014.
To start with, Ali was an opening batsman who bowled his offspinners a bit in the ODI team. He was good early on and got selected in the World Cup 2015 squad as an opening batsman who can bowl a bit. After that tournament, the England team started their reformation, especially in one-day cricket. The 2015 WC didn’t go well and from there on, Ali had a changed role.
With Hales and Roy being a settled opening pair, Ali was demoted down to No. 7 and so was required to bowl more overs to survive in the eleven. Since then, he has developed a knack of bowling full quota of overs almost every time and be a handy batsman lower down the order. This changed the balance of the English team just because they could pick four seamers if needed or pick leg-spinner Rashid along with three pacers to balance the bowling attack.
Since having a fixed role in the ODI team has helped Ali a lot. He now is focused on his game and not on the selection panel. He is a complete cricketer for England now in shorter forms of the game with an ability to change games while batting or bowling. His amount of 1,194 runs and 47 wickets in 58 matches is good. The economy rate of 5.09 is perfect for an offspinner in the current scenario of one-day cricket.
Talking about test cricket, Moeen Ali was nominal to start with against Sri Lanka. His tendency to bowl slower in International games made him easy to pick. The team management then tried fitting him as an opener who is a part-time bowler. It was in 2014 after his debut when Ian Bell suggested Ali to bowl a bit quicker and extract spin to survive in International test cricket.
Current ICC umpire Kumar Dharmasena helped the allrounder to learn the art of spin bowling by increasing a bit of pace. All those things paid dividends when India toured England and Ali took 19 wickets in that test series. From there on, the Worcester all-rounder had a fixed role of bowling more overs and batting lower down the order as opening didn’t suit him.
His marquee test year as an all-rounder came in 2016 when he scored 1,078 runs and picked 37 wickets in 17 test matches. A good return for a player who is aiming to become a No.1 all-rounder.
The question of Ali being a number 1 offspinner for the test team remains. His record as a bowler in Asia hasn’t been that great with 31 wickets from 12 test matches bowling about 368 overs. It is a decent record for an all-rounder but not good if he is to be considered as a number 1 spinner.
The question of this column was – is Moeen Ali a perfect all-rounder or just a handy team man. We can clearly say he is more than just a handy player in the team. Analysing his performances so far, we can come to the point that he is a perfect all-rounder for this England team but still needs time to take over that No.1 spinner role.