Upon taking six wickets in Southampton to hand England their first victory in 10 Test matches and almost a year, lifting pressure on Alastair Cook and his team, Moeen Ali established himself as a match winning bowler.
He started out as a distinctly part time spinner but he has improved markedly after gaining Cook’s trust and here we compare his figures to Graeme Swann’s the last time India were in England, in 2011.
Now, this is not to say that Swann had a bad series, indeed he had a perfectly adequate one, with England winning four games to nil, it is just that Ali has managed more influence on the games when he has been able to come into them.
Of course this is partly due to the relative drop off in quality between the two India sides in question, with the 2011 side containing Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman; some of the most gifted batsmen the game has ever seen.
In fact, only the out of form Virat Kohli would stand a chance of getting into that Indian touring side of 2011. This is not to belittle what Ali has achieved in this series, merely an acknowledgement that he has been used as a more attacking spinner in this series than Swann was able to, due to the relative qualities in the line-ups.
A new role?
However, this has also been somewhat forced upon Cook as well due to the almost equal drop off in English bowling quality; Stuart Broad looks a shadow of the bowler who took 25 wickets in the series while terrorising the experienced England batsmen. Given the circumstances, Ali has done very well in his newfound role.
There is no doubt Ali began as a holding option for Cook when he first came into the side, and he didn’t seem too fancy at that. However, he is improving exponentially with every game, bowling a tighter line and a more effective pace with guidance from his international comrades.
His figures then, whilst they can’t be directly compared to Swann’s, do show that he may now be ready to step up from part-time option to be England’s spinner for some time to come.
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