Run of defeats has not damaged England’s confidence, insists Moeen Ali
Moeen Ali is confident England will be all right on the night when they defend their World Cup crown in India in the autumn and insisted there is no alarm despite five one-day international defeats in a row.
South Africa moved into an unassailable 2-0 lead against England following twin wins in Bloemfontein, with the tourists hoping to avoid a second successive series clean sweep in Kimberley on Wednesday.
But a 3-0 whitewash against Australia last November was almost a write-off considering the series fell a few days after England’s T20 World Cup triumph, while scheduling issues mean a best XI is rarely fielded.
While Moeen admitted the losing sequence is far from ideal, the all-rounder pointed out England have form for coming good in the critical moments and feels they will be better for these experiences.
“There is no panic in the changing room,” Moeen said. “We know with the World Cup coming up it is about getting the right team together. It’s about not getting too down, we want to peak at the right time.
“We know we have to start winning because winning is a habit. You obviously want to be winning but you don’t want to win all your games now and when it comes to the crunch, lose.
“Results don’t show it yet but I genuinely believe we will be better than we were (in 2019). More experience, used to different conditions and going to India where we’ve played a lot of IPL.
“Come the crunch time, what really matters is pressure and how you handle the pressure. We have been in that situation many times and we can hopefully do it again.”
England have been white-ball trailblazers since the 2015 World Cup fiasco – culminating in them lifting a maiden global 50-over trophy four years later – but Moeen suspects other sides have caught up.
“I think that’s what it is,” he said. “Other teams are playing the way we have. Look at India and New Zealand. South Africa are a brilliant side, they are right up there with one of the best.
“We know how we want to play, I think we will play like that forever.”
Moeen registered his first half-century in 46 innings – dating back to September 2017 – on Sunday, helping England post 342 for seven which was overhauled with five wickets and as many balls to spare.
He often comes in lower down the order and is required to start attacking from ball one, making him more vulnerable.
But with the likes of Liam Livingstone and Will Jacks offering alternative options as spin-bowling all-rounders, Moeen’s 51 off 45 deliveries containing six fours and one six was especially timely.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “I’m not a powerful guy. But I need to give myself that time and that’s something I need to really trust and sometimes I do panic.
“I don’t trust my own game at times because I see the boundaries and then I feel like they’re really big at times, but I’ll hit one and I’m OK. (On Sunday) I hit six and thought ‘I’m all right now’.
“It proved to myself that actually if I give myself a bit of time I can catch up and I’m the type of player that can score quickly at times.”
While Moeen has a career bowling average of 50.01 in ODIs, he largely offers control and dovetails nicely with fellow spinner Adil Rashid, who is viewed as more of a wicket-taking threat.
However, Moeen frankly admitted the downsides of bowling spin in this format, especially with fielding restrictions, means he does not especially relish being called upon by captain Jos Buttler.
“Do you want my honest opinion?,” he said when asked if he likes 50-over cricket. “I like batting. I hate bowling. I actually think it’s quite unfair for spinners.
“Obviously we have to get better but a lot of the time you can only bowl straight. As soon as you give a bit of width, it’s four on good wickets, so I don’t like bowling and fielding for 50 overs.”