England’s one day side has been struggling for some time, but one of the highlights in the current Sri Lanka tour has been Moeen Ali.
The 27-year-old has also excelled in the test arena – and thankfully for England the left-handed batsman and off-spin bowler has taken his test form into one-day cricket.
When captain Alastair Cook inherited the captaincy from predecessor Andrew Strauss, the 29-year-old initially enjoyed success in the role.
England even enjoyed a brief stint at the top of the one day international rankings, but since those highs England have suffered a number of lows. Kevin Pietersen made claims in his book about team morale, and actually finding a replacement for the man himself have been factors which have contributed to England's struggle in recent months.
The most underlining problem for England, though, has been their opening partnership. For the best part of a year England have struggled to find the right combination - until now.
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Several players have been tried in the opening position to accompany Alastair Cook – Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell who are more middle order batsmen were placed as openers, such was the difficulty England were facing in the opening batsmen department.
Opening batsman Alex Hales has been included to try and solve this issue, but one thing which might have dissuaded the England’s selectors to select Hales in the long term is the 25-year-old’s tendencies to have a bit of ill discipline.
When the one day international squad was announced it was a surprise to see Hales dropped for Moeen Ali who is also middle order batsmen by trade. Much to the surprise of many - myself included - Ali has been nothing sort of sensational.
The Worcestershire all-rounder is the leading run scorer for England in this five match series, Ali has scored a century and a very entertaining half-century already in this five match series, so it’s no surprise that he has the most runs.
It’s Ali's aggressive approach which makes him suited to the role. For so many months the outcry from many has been for England to be more aggressive, with Ali at the top of the order at appears that they can now do that.
The maturity that he plays with is very admirable and I feel it’s what makes him a very good opener at one day international level. Where as Hales tries to play to many aggressive shots at times Ali has managed to balance attacking instinct with sensible batting.
Although it’s to early judge Moeen fairly as he has not played a World Cup yet, the early signs look very promising. England look like they just might have found the right player to partner Cook at the top of the order, with a player many didn’t expect.
Where many players have failed over the years Moeen Ali has so far exceeded, some senior players could do with taking a leaf out of the Worcestershire all-rounders book.