Joe Root has hailed Moeen Ali as a “natural leader” after his promotion to vice-captain of the England Test team.

Root, the England captain, announced the news on the eve of the fourth LV= Insurance Test against India at the Kia Oval. Moeen, who has previously captained England in a T20I against Australia last year, is deputising for the absent Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler. He has also captained England U19, Worcestershire (he remains their T20 captain when available) and Birmingham Phoenix.

“Moeen is a natural leader,” Root said. “He’s someone that the team gravitate towards for a number of reasons, one of them being the way he understands the game. He’s done wonderfully well when he’s done the role in domestic cricket and obviously last year as well for England in the shorter formats. I’m really excited for him and I think he’s absolutely the right man for the role. He’s got a brilliant cricket brain.”

Moeen described the news as “amazing”. And it’s true, after his tour after his tour to India ended a few months ago, this scenario seemed distant. But he was also “realistic”. He knows that, were Buttler or Stokes available, they would fulfil the role. He also knows that, if Buttler is able to return to the side for the final Test in little more than a week, he will reclaim it. Rory Burns is also understood to have been considered for the role.

But that’s not to say Moeen’s influence will not be beneficial. It was noticeable at the start of the third Test, for example, that James Anderson pointed to Moeen, fielding at mid-off, after claiming the wicket of KL Rahul. That Moeen noticed Anderson was pitching a little short was one thing; that England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker sought his advice his another. Both bode well.

“He just asked me if he was bowling a little bit too short on this wicket and I said maybe just a little bit,” Moeen said. “It’s scary because Jimmy Anderson’s got so many wickets and telling him to pitch it up is not easy. But next ball he pitched it up and Rahul nicked it. It’s just him throwing ideas at me and me giving my opinion.”

More than that, though, Moeen adds a sense of calm. Perhaps, had he been in the vice-captaincy role at Lord’s, England wouldn’t have been sucked into the barrage of short balls directed at Jasprit Bumrah which was probably the turning point of the match. If India come hard at England this week, as expected, that sense of cool which Moeen has may prove invaluable.

“Some of the stuff the opposition do is just to get us to play differently,” Moeen said. “And I think I’m quite good at controlling that.

“I’ve friends on the opposition team. On the field we play hard but I won’t let a cricket game get in the way of me and my team-mates or me and the opposition. I always think about that. I think about who I’m representing: my family; my parents. There’s more to it than just losing my cool on the playing field.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *