Ali hails Saqlain role in S Africa suc­cess

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MANCHESTER: Moeen Ali has paid trib­ute to the “amaz­ing” Saqlain Mush­taq for his role in help­ing the Eng­land all-rounder en­joy a record-break­ing Test se­ries against South Africa. Ali, a 30-year-old off-spin­ner and left­handed bats­man, be­came the first man in cricket his­tory to score more than 250 runs and take 25 wick­ets in a four-match Test se­ries dur­ing the course of Eng­land’s 3-1 vic­tory over the Proteas.

Ali has of­ten been re­garded, even by him­self, as a “sec­ond spin­ner” when the likes of Hamp­shire left-armer Liam Daw­son have been in the Eng­land side. But un­der the guid­ance of Eng­land spin-bowl­ing coach Saqlain, a for­mer Pak­istan off-spin­ner and star of a Sur­rey side that won English County Cham­pi­onship ti­tles at the turn of the cen­tury, Ali’s bowl­ing has im­proved markedly.

“Saqqy has been amaz­ing for me in terms of help­ing with my fields, help­ing me un­der­stand my bowl­ing a lot more than I had done pre­vi­ously-and I think that has been the big­gest dif­fer­ence,” said Ali af­ter bowl­ing Eng­land to a 177-run win in the fourth Test at Old Traf­ford with more than a day to spare on Mon­day.

“Lit­tle things like that can make a big dif­fer­ence,” ex­plained Ali, who ended the match with two wick­ets in two balls for an in­nings re­turn of five for 69 af­ter fin­ish­ing Eng­land’s vic­tory in the third Test at The Oval with a hat­trick. “Be­fore, I just bowled, (and) didn’t re­ally think too much,” added Ali, who started the se­ries with a 10-wicket haul in Eng­land’s first Test win at Lord’s. “I let the captain set the field. I would say I set the field a lot more through­out this se­ries.”

The South Africa se­ries saw Ali, who showed his bat­ting class with an un­beaten 75 not out in Eng­land’s sec­ond in­nings at Old Traf­ford, ce­ment his po­si­tion of fourth in the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil rank­ings for Test all-rounders.

“I feel a lot more con­fi­dent in my abil­ity,” he said. “I feel like it was build­ing... I had been bat­ting well over the last year, and the bowl­ing was com­ing.” Joe Root, whose first se­ries as Eng­land captain ended with a de­ci­sive vic­tory, has been de­lighted by Worces­ter­shire star Ali’s progress. “He is def­i­nitely im­prov­ing all the time,” said Root. “I hope it’s not just a one-off se­ries, and he can go on now and do it again and again.” — AFP

Moeen Ali

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