MOEEN Ali’s rise to prominence for England this summer has been nothing short of remarkable.
When the Worcestershire all-rounder was selected to represent his country in February it was nothing less than he deserved on the back of a stellar 2013 at New Road.
But not even the most optimistic of fan would have believed that Moeen would have become his nation’s most potent spinner in such a short space of time.
His inclusion in the Test squad was primarily as a batsman, a trust he underlined by making his maiden international century in the second innings of the second Test defeat against Sri Lanka in June.
But, since then, captain Alastair Cook has turned more and more to Moeen with the ball and the 27-year-old has not disappointed.
Having managed to take just three wickets in two Tests against Sri Lanka, Moeen has so far claimed 19 in the four Test matches against India, with one more to play, starting tomorrow at The Oval.
His stunning six-wicket haul in the second innings of the third Test at the Ageas Bowl – allied to two more in the tourists’ first innings – led England to a 266-run victory.
He also took four, as well as a run-out, as England won by an innings and 54 runs at Old Trafford last week.
England have been lacking a dependable spinner since Graeme Swann retired during last winter’s dismal Ashes series and Moeen has seized his opportunity.
It has been built on sheer hard graft from a player who has done it the hard way playing for Worcestershire, a relatively unfashionable county in the selectors’ eyes in recent years.
Under the guidance of director of cricket Steve Rhodes, and the late Damian D’Oliveira, Moeen has developed from a capable county cricketer into one of genuine international class, as he is now showing.
Moeen goes about his business in the most unassuming manner and does not seek the trappings of success.
But now he is reaping the rewards he richly deserves and long may it continue.
He could turn out to be England’s leading spinner for a long time yet.