Worcestershire star Moeen Ali has thanked captain Alastair Cook for helping him flourish as an England Test all-rounder.
Cook has had much to ponder this summer as calls increased for him to resign while batting form continually deserted him and he led England to series defeats against Sri Lanka and then a 1-0 deficit against India.
He responded, however, with 165 runs towards a landslide victory at the Ageas Bowl and – after a three-day success at Old Trafford – has the chance to make it a 3-1 verdict in the Investec series in the last Test at The Oval starting tomorrow.
Moeen's bowling in particular has been a revelation, bringing him 19 wickets against India, and he knows the support and guidance from Cook has been priceless.
Even as the captain's still searched for a 26th Test century, Cook did not sacrifice his duty of care to the emerging players in England's new era.
A grateful Moeen said: "I have never met a mentally stronger person in my life.
"Even when he was going through the tough patch, when he got out he was disappointed, but he was strong and brave.
"You never would have thought he had just got out, which really surprised me.
"I have never met someone like that before – and I have played with some strong characters. He has been fantastic."
Cook's fortunes have improved, but his man-management is a constant – according to Moeen.
He said: "When I first came in the side, he put his arm around me and said 'just be yourself and enjoy playing for England … there is a reason why you are here'.
"I had breakfast with him this morning, and he is still the same.
"He is a really good person to be around, and I really hope he does well."
Moeen, meanwhile, remains on a learning curve – with a perceived susceptibility against the short ball an obstacle he must overcome. He is confident he will do so.
He said: "When you get out a couple of times the same way, you think about it a lot. I've probably been thinking about it too much – whether I should take it on or not.
"I don't feel like I've got a problem with it, but thinking about it too much has probably been my downfall."
The remedy, Moeen believes, is to back methods he has tried and trusted for many years.
He said: "I'm just going to go back to my basics and my own game. I hope I can get through that initial phase and leave it alone, even if I take a couple of blows.
"That's what I normally do, but I've probably been guilty of overthinking it."
:: Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, is the title sponsor of Test match cricket in England. Visit investec.co.uk/cricket or follow us @InvestecCricket