Moeen Ali relishing challenge of being a white-ball match-winner
Moeen Ali turned the match England’s way to lead the ODI series 2-1
Moeen Ali has already long packed away his Ashes disappointment and set his sights on being a white-ball match-winner this winter.
Test cricket will return soon enough for the all-rounder, who endured a largely barren Ashes campaign – but at present, he has a new and invigorating challenge on his hands.
In tandem with fellow spinner Adil Rashid, he believes he can keep helping to turn matches England’s way – as the pair of them did with five wickets for 23 runs to undermine New Zealand’s chase in Saturday’s third one-day international at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.
The brilliant Kane Williamson still took the hosts to the brink in a thrilling contest, but Moeen’s three for 36 helped England into a 2-1 series lead.
It is a jarring contrast that his paltry five wickets in the entire Ashes series came at the alarming cost of 575 runs and took 169.2 overs spread over seven weeks.
To Moeen, though, those struggles are a distant memory.
“You can’t afford to dwell on the Ashes,” he said.
“Ashes or no Ashes, it’s Test cricket, and you try to give your best. That’s all you can do.”
He is doing the same, to better effect, in the white-ball section of England’s arduous winter – first in a 4-1 ODI win over Australia, before taking a rest during the Twenty20 Tri-series.
“You’ve just got to try and move on and look forward, because we play so much cricket,” said Moeen, who will be back in action when England bid for an unassailable 3-1 lead in the fourth match of five in Dunedin on Wednesday.
Reflecting on his and Rashid’s impact this weekend, he added: “I feel as though I can turn a game like that in terms of not just taking wickets but trying to bowl tight – and then the wickets will come.
“We brought the game back into our hands.
“We both knew we were the two guys who were going to win the game, but I didn’t feel pressure to take wickets or anything like that.”
England’s much-improved limited-overs fortunes since the last World Cup have meant the switch to white-ball cricket brings back the feelgood factor.
“Knowing as a team we’re a lot more confident in the one-day white-ball stuff, you just feel you get energised a little bit after those difficult months,” said Moeen.
He is a confidant as well as spin twin for Rashid, and they love hatching plans for opposition batsmen.
“We actually talk a lot with each other, about how we’re going to bowl on this particular wicket, how we’re going to bowl a little bit different to the one in the last game,” added Moeen, who also supports the leg-spinner over his controversial decision to sign a white-ball only contract with Yorkshire this summer.
“I think it’s something that has been on his mind for a good few months.
“Sometimes as a player when something just feels right, it might not make sense to other people, (but) it’s something you just have to do.
“I know there’s a lot of ex-players who give him a bit of stick, but it’s up to him.
“It’s his life, his career.”
Moeen confirms too that personal goals rather than financial considerations are behind Rashid’s switch.
“These days you can afford to do it,” he added.
“Some players may lose a bit of money, but they are still earning enough.
“For some players, and I know this for Rash, it’s not about the money.”