Is Moeen Ali a long term #3 for England in Test cricket?
Moeen Ali, one of the best all-rounders in the world cricket currently has been a utility player for England ever since making his debut back in 2014. Ali has been so dynamic and versatile that England have used him at almost every batting positions ranging from the top order to the lower middle order. Off late, he was made to bat at #3 in the second innings of 4th Test match of the recently concluded Pataudi Trophy.
When asked about this snub in the middle of the match, captain Joe Root (who looked out of form during the series) very honestly said that he has always felt comfortable batting at #4 in Test cricket. Then in the 5th Test of the series, Joe dropped down to #4 and immediately reaped the rewards scoring a magnificent century.
Ali again batted at #3 in the match and scored a very hard-fought half-century where he seemingly played and missed a lot of deliveries & was perhaps a bit lucky as well.
If Joe Root sets to continue batting at #4 in Test, England needs to fill the crucial #3 spot. Looking back over the last few years, there has been a lot of chopping and changing of personnel in this position.
In fact, England has still been unable to track down Jonathan Trott’s replacement. Now, the question here is will Moeen Ali, who lately batted in that position be able to fill that void and bat at #3 for relatively longer period of time?
England is due to tour Sri Lanka next November and West Indies in January where they will play three Test matches each. Given the conditions and nature of pitch in these parts of the world, Moeen Ali looks a decent shot to bat at #3.
Moeen has always looked a better player of spin and also boasts a very good record in the sub-continental conditions. Apart from this, the next plus point for England having Moeen bat at #3 is they could actually adjust an extra spinner in the playing XI who may come real handy in the slow tracks of SL and WI.
The new English selectors Ed Smith & James Taylor have openly talked about following the “horses for courses” approach as and when felt necessary. Moeen Ali thus looks to be a prime candidate to bat at #3 for England in these couple of away tours.
However, cometh the Ashes next year, Ali might not be the right man to bat at #3 where he will have to face some high quality pace bowling attack in the form of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazzlewood and Pat Cummins.
In Moeen Ali, England can fill that void of #3 for at least next six Test matches in Sri Lanka and West Indies, but the question would be can he prosper in that batting position facing some high quality pace bowling attacks of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia or England? Only time will tell!!