Just over a year ago, I warned that the ECB were setting Moeen Ali up to fail.
My contention was that he wasn’t the spin solution they were looking for.
Not only would England be underserved, but it would stifle the flow of better spin talent through the team.
This has proven to be true.
An average over 38 while leaking at almost 4 an over is not what is required at Test level.
How on earth did the ECB think it would be any different?
They only had to look at his First Class bowling record.
It essentially mirrors that of Cameron White’s.
However, I prophesied only half the issue.
What I missed as I glazed into my pint of beer looking for truth was that England would be dazzled by Moeen’s very pretty batting technique.
The ECB are like Gollum in Lord of the Rings.
There is no doubt that Moeen moves his bat and feet like a ballet dancer. He looks beautiful. However, to be an effective batsman, he needs to make runs. This is his fatal flaw.
Moeen came into Test cricket batting number 6. I’m yet to work out if he was a batting all rounder whose part time spin would suffice to fill the Graeme Swann gap, or an over hyped bowling all rounder whose batting could hold its own?
In any case, both are missing.
The ECB need to take some responsibility here.
In his 18 Test matches to date, Ali has batted in six different spots in the order.
Is he an opener or is he a number 9?
Number 7 is where he has had the most success. However, logic dictates that if he bats there, then he needs to be able to hold his place as a bowler. This is where it all comes crashing down.
Potentially he is a number 6 if England view him as a batting all rounder. But his overall batting average is only 28. When Moeen bats at 6, it drops to 21.
Ben Stokes would also see number 6 as his spot. He has a similarly bloated bowling average (39) but a much better batting average (35).
Most cricket pundits would have Stokes ahead of Moeen if only one spot was up for grabs.
Ali is clearly not an opener. At least England had the sense to rip Joe Root out of there before it was too late. Ali is one of the worst top order players against the short ball currently playing, let alone that he can’t help but chase the wider ones.
If Cook didn’t carry a personal grudge against Compton, we wouldn’t have this ridiculous scenario.
Sources tell me the angst lingers from a match where Compton went off the ground to receive treatment for an injury, yet Cook thought he was faking it to avoid fielding. Cook has never confronted Compton about the issue. He just had him removed from the team.
So where to for Moeen.
He’s not an opener. He’s not first choice at number 6 if that spot is for an all rounder. He’s not the best spinner available.
England have fallen into the same trap Australia have done on many occasions. That is, trying to force too many all rounders into a Test team.
It just doesn’t work.
If Moeen had been introduced and left at number 6, maybe it would have turned out differently?
But he wasn’t and it hasn’t.
Moeen was one of the prettiest ballerinas to try out for a gig. However, all of the roles in the next production of Swan Lake have been taken.