Worcestershire Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes believes England hero Moeen Ali “will only get better” as he prepares to paticipate in this country’s first ever day-night Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston starting later today.
Rhodes says the tough times in the early days after offering Moeen the chance to develop into a fully fledged spinner at New Road have all proved worthwhile given the way he has flourished with England.
The 30-year-old ended the series against South Africa last week with 25 wickets and over 250 runs – the first player to achieve that in a four match series.
County supporters were keen for Rhodes to bring in another experienced spinner when Gareth Batty returned to Surrey after eight seasons as the front-line slow bowler for Worcestershire at the end of 2009.
But he had spotted the potential evident in a 22-year-old Moeen who had moved down the M5 from Warwickshire a couple of years previously.
Rhodes said: “What an amazing series it was (against South Africa) for Mo. I look back to those early days when Gareth Batty left us and everyone was crying out for us to bring in another spinner.
“We all went through some tough times in learning the art of spin bowling – we did, Moeen did.
“But crikey, it is all worthwhile now seeing one of our players succeed and play so well in a Test series.
“Twenty five wickets in four games as a spinner in England in a phenomenal effort. He should take a lot of credit but also it is not just about his bowling.
“He has played some amazing innings and he is a very exciting player to watch when things go well because he plays the game in such a positive way.
“We have been messaging and he said he was delighted to have done what he has so we are really pleased for him.”
When looking back to those early days, Rhodes said: “Mo has always 1) been an off-spinner and 2) spinning the ball was always something that he did well.
“He just needed to gain a little bit of experience and control – and he is starting to do that.
“He will only get better. You tend to do that as you get older.
“That wicket for the Test at Old Trafford and the footholds, I’m sure he’d love to take that around in his kitbag and open up every game he plays!
“That shouldn’t take anything away from what he has achieved.
“South Africa have some very good players of spin who have done well on the sub continent where the wickets have turned and at Old Trafford, he had them in trouble.”
Moeen has had a rare few days off in an ever demanding international schedule before the start of the three game series with the Windies.
Rhodes said: “He has had a bit of a breather before the start of the next series and he is an England player through and through.
“He has been part of that set-up for a few years now and we do see him as a player who, when he comes back to us, it is just a bonus.
“We let him crack on and get on with his international career because that’s his real team at the moment.”