While in Mumbai nets, Moeen Ali never remained idle: Umesh Patwal

Updated: Nov 14, 2016, 10:18 IST | Noel D'Souza |

The year 2016 has been a major turnaround for England all-rounder Moeen Ali. At the start, his Test career hung in balance, failing as an opening batsman, with an average of just 14 in the UAE against Pakistan

Coach Umesh Patwal (left) with Moeen Ali (right) and Adil Rashid during a party on November 3, 2016. Pic /Rajesh Shah
Coach Umesh Patwal (left) with Moeen Ali (right) and Adil Rashid during a party on November 3, 2016. Pic /Rajesh Shah

The year 2016 has been a major turnaround for England all-rounder Moeen Ali. At the start, his Test career hung in balance, failing as an opening batsman, with an average of just 14 in the UAE against Pakistan. The ball too was not one of his best friends, going at an economy rate of over four runs on the same tour. 

Before this year, the 29-year-old Pakistan expat averaged 26 with the bat from 20 Tests. Then the script changed. This year, he averages 61 with the bat, and both his tons — one each against Sri Lanka and Pakistan at home, rescued his side from wobbly situations.

So it was no surprise when Ali notched up his third Test ton, his first in India, during the ongoing Test against Virat Kohli’s men at Rajkot.

“He was never a technically weak player. We used to discuss how to get used to the pace and bounce of the wicket in the sub-continent, knowing what are your strengths are and what is the best shot to play.

Rotating strike
“While batting against the spinners too, I used to always tell Moeen to keep picking up runs and rotate the strike,” Umesh Patwal, who worked with Ali during the Global Cricket School camp for the past seven to eight years, told mid-day yesterday.

Ali along with his other teammates such as Adil Rashid, Ben Stokes, Joe Root, Johnny Bairstow and Jos Buttler have trained under Patwal at Mumbai’s Cricket Club of India ground, apart from other venues in Mohali, Bangalore and Pune.

Today, Moeen has matured as an all-rounder, a development Patwal reckoned will not add to pressure on his shoulders. “He is more of a batsman, but the all-rounder tag won’t add pressure on him as he is mentally very strong. He won’t let his batting affect his bowling or vice-versa. In bowling too, he would perform his duties very well and would stick to his line and length. During the camp too after batting, he used to immediately pick up the ball and never remained idle,” Patwal, who was also the batting coach of Afghanistan, added. Ali’s bowling, with an economy rate of 3.78 in Tests, is always at the receiving end of harsh criticism.

'Keep batsman guessing'
However, Patwal feels that even though he may not be an attacking like India’s Ravichandran Ashwin, he does ensure to keep to his line and length.

“During bowling, we used to discuss how to keep targetting the off stump and I used to tell him to always keep the batsman guessing.

“He doesn’t have variations like a carrom ball, but his strengths are trajectory of the delivery and the variations in pace,” Patwal added.

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