There is no one who does more to balance this England team than Moeen Ali who has batted at No 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 in the batting order and been a large part of England’s bowling unit. It is at number seven as a finisher where Moeen has spent most of his career, and he is England’s all-time leading run scorer at that position.
Back at the 2015 World Cup, as England failed to reach the knockout stages, Moeen was one of the few bright sparks. He averaged 38 with the bat and was one of only two players with a strike rate of over 100. His bowling was tight but a bit toothless on Australian pitches, but his star was still on the rise when that tournament finished.
Moeen’s importance to this England team is not one best described with numbers. While he has a decent record in ODIs, it is the way he pulls the middle and lower order together with the bat and offers a further spin option that allows his captain to mix things up with his attack. A pre-tournament injury to Moeen that has seen him miss games for his country as they prepare for their best chance to win a World Cup in two decades is a real worry for the team which has already been unsettled by the removal of Alex Hales from the squad.
Moeen’s approach to batting, which is sometimes cavalier and always dramatic, and his diligence in working on improving himself as a bowler are a no better reflection of the improvement this England team has made between World Cups.