Eng­land hero Ali wants Ashes role for Saqlain

New Straits Times - - Sport -


ENG­LAND star Moeen Ali wants Saqlain Mush­taq’s coach­ing role made per­ma­nent so he can con­tinue to work with him in the up­com­ing Ashes se­ries fol­low­ing his record-break­ing feats against South Africa.

The 30-year-old Ali, an off­spin­ner and left-handed bats­man, be­came the first man to score more than 250 runs and take 25 wick­ets in a four Test­match se­ries dur­ing Eng­land’s 31 win over the Proteas.

Af­ter­wards, Ali was un­stint­ing in his praise of spin coach Saqlain.

The for­mer Pak­istan off-spin­ner is, how­ever, cur­rently em­ployed by the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board on a con­sul­tancy ba­sis only and Ali said: “If you are go­ing to have bat­ting, field­ing and fast-bowl­ing coaches, it would be nice to have a spin­bowl­ing coach for pretty much all the games.

“If I do get on that plane for the Ashes, hope­fully I’ll have Saqqy sit­ting next to me,” he added. “I’d like him to be there. He can help me out.”

Ali has of­ten la­belled him­self a “sec­ond spin­ner.”

But his bowl­ing has im­proved markedly un­der Saqlain’s guid­ance.

“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.

Hashim Amla’s 83 held Eng­land up but a toi­let break gave Ali a chance to con­sult Saqlain and he sub­se­quently had the star bats­man lbw.

It was the start of an Ali burst that yielded three wick­ets for five runs in 11 balls.

“He (Saqlain) gave me the op­tion of putting a silly point in,” Ali said. “Maybe it put some­thing in the bat­ter’s mind in terms of play­ing for­ward.

“I bowled a bit shorter, he went back. I think that made the dif­fer­ence.

“There is al­ways some­thing new with Saqqy. The ba­sics are the same, but he has found a few vari­a­tions in my bowl­ing which I am work­ing on.

“He is bril­liant with my mind­set,” ex­plained Ali, who ended the match with two wick­ets in two balls af­ter fin­ish­ing Eng­land’s vic­tory in the Third Test at The Oval with a hat-trick.

“Be­fore, I just bowled. I didn’t re­ally think too much,” added Ali, who fin­ished with five for 69 on Mon­day.

“I let the captain set the field. Saqlain has helped me un­der­stand my ac­tion, field set­tings and the type of bats­men,” said Ali, who took 10 wick­ets in Eng­land’s First Test win at Lord’s.

Ashes-hold­ers Eng­land have three Tests at home to the West Indies be­fore they travel to Australia, with Ali hint­ing at a full­time role for Saqlain by say­ing: “That’s not too far from the fu­ture.”

The South Africa se­ries also saw Ali make valu­able runs, as ex­em­pli­fied by his un­beaten sec­ond-in­nings 75 at Old Traf­ford.

“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.”

Although he won both the manof-the-match and se­ries awards on Mon­day, Ali took no part in some of the cel­e­bra­tions that fol­lowed Eng­land captain Joe Root lift­ing the Basil D’Oliveira Tro­phy.

Ali’s Mus­lim faith pro­hibits not just the drink­ing of al­co­hol but con­tact too — a risk when cham­pagne is be­ing sprayed around on the win­ners’ podium.

But for­mer captain Alas­tair Cook made sure Ali was in­cluded in all the team pho­tos be­fore the corks started pop­ping at Old Traf­ford.

“The team re­spects that, and I’m ob­vi­ously very grate­ful,” Ali said.

“Cooky said ‘make sure we take the pic­ture first’, and then I move out the way and they can do what they do.

“I don’t feel I miss out, it’s just spray­ing a bot­tle, not that ex­cit­ing re­ally.” AFP

Eng­land’s Moeen Ali was a rev­e­la­tion against South Africa.

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