Moeen Ali says he is looking forward to returning to England's lower batting order and playing with more freedom during the forthcoming Test series in South Africa after admitting his spell as an opener was not a success.

The Worcestershire all-rounder was England's third highest scorer batting at number eight or nine in the Ashes triumph over Australia last summer behind Joe Root and skipper Alastair Cook.

But his highest score was 35 in six innings at the top of the order during the series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates as a replacement for Adam Lyth.

Moeen said: "I'm actually looking forward to going back to eight and playing a few shots, hopefully freeing up.

"Obviously opening didn't work. I enjoyed it and it was a really good experience but I didn't score the runs I'd have liked.

"I probably got caught in two minds at times whether to attack or not but things like that happen.

"I'm happy and I don't mind where I bat, I'll just look to do my job wherever I bat."

Moeen showed impressive form with the ball ahead of the Boxing Day Test in Durban with 6-77 in the second innings against South Africa 'A' in Pietermaritzburg as England won by an innings and 91 runs.

His victims including full internationals in Quinton De Kock, who top-scored with 53, and Rilee Rossouw.

He said: "It was good because the ball spun up front and that's what made it a bit difficult for the batsmen.

“It was nice to get some wickets and some overs under my belt. It was just nice to bowl. I feel like I have been bowling well in practice, but to do it out in the middle was good.

“I was just trying to keep it very simple and not think about it too much, to get my action right and do the simple things. I was trying to bowl tight and the wickets will come.

“This wicket was not as easy to bat on because some span and some didn't. That made it quite dangerous.”

Moeen recognises that he may be called upon in different roles, as an attacking bowler in favourable conditions or to try and keep and end tight in other circumstances.

He said: "It all depends on the wickets, I'm just going to go in and adapt my game and keep it simple.

"If it spins, then I'll try to get some wickets and, if it's not spinning, try and hold up an end and sometimes to give the bowlers a rest.

"I don't always do that very well (keep it tight) but it's something I've been working on since I've been here and hopefully I can do that.

“I think over here I am going to have to bowl tight and bowl well. Depending on the situation of the game t is going to be important."