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England hero Moeen: Batting is still my strongest suit

123   //    08 Aug 2017, 22:30 IST
Moeen Ali - cropped
Moeen Ali with the Basil D'Oliveira Trophy

Moeen Ali says he still considers himself a batsman first, despite excelling with the ball in England's Test series victory over South Africa.

The popular all-rounder took 25 wickets and scored 252 runs in the four Tests against the Proteas, his efforts earning him the hosts' man of the series award.

Having played alongside Liam Dawson in the first two Tests and been described as England's "second spinner" by coach Trevor Bayliss in an apparent attempt to ease the pressure on his shoulders, Moeen performed outstandingly as the solitary frontline slow bowler for Joe Root's men at The Oval and Old Trafford.

After taking 5-69 in South Africa's second innings in Manchester on Monday, to follow a valuable 75 not out from number eight, Moeen insisted: "No matter how many wickets I get, I'm definitely a batter.

"I still believe I'm a batsman, I feel like it's the stronger point of my game and if the opportunity comes up the order I'll do that."

While Moeen maintains batting is his strongest suit, the 30-year-old was understandably delighted with his bowling returns against South Africa, which featured a hat-trick at the end of the third Test at The Oval.

"I'd have taken it," Moeen said with typical understatement when asked about his 25-wicket haul.

"It was a great series with the ball for my confidence, taking wickets and making a difference.

"I don't want to get too confident or over the top with it. I practiced more this series than I've ever done with my bowling, hitting a good area and things like that. If it's spinning, it's my job in the team to take wickets."

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis highlighted the value of England's all-rounders in the post-match presentation at Old Trafford, with Ben Stokes and wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow having also shone in two disciplines.

"If two of us have failed, the other guy has got to do something," said Moeen. "Six, seven, eight [in England's batting order] is strong and when we bat together we score so quick."

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