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England Hero Moeen Ali Wants Ashes Role for Saqlain Mushtaq

AFP |August 9, 2017, 9:12 AM IST
England Hero Moeen Ali Wants Ashes Role for Saqlain Mushtaq

Manchester: 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 off-spinner and left-handed batsman, became the first man to score more than 250 runs and take 25 wickets in a four Test-match series during England's 3-1 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 spin-bowling 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 full-time 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 man-of-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."

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3778 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 India 8099 261
5 Australia 5471 261
see more