Moeen Ali spurred to greater heights after Ed Smith criticism

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Moeen Ali says he was “hit hard” by comments from the national selector, Ed Smith, suggesting he was neither England’s first-choice spinner nor suitable to overseas conditions.Smith, appointed as England’s national selector last April, could not find space for Moeen in his first Test squad for the series against Pakistan, which started in May. Instead, Dom Bess was selected with Smith making it clear Jack Leach would have played had he been fit.
“Moeen had a difficult winter,” Smith said at the time. “We know he can be a very productive player in English conditions. But the role of first-choice spinner might not be best suited to him. His best way might be as second spinner.”
But while Moeen says those comments were “disappointing”, he also believes they “spurred” him to win a recall. That happened for the fourth Test of the series against India, when he won the man-of-the-match award after out-bowling Ravi Ashwin and picking up nine series-sealing wickets.
And now, having finished both winter tours as England’s highest wicket-taker (he and Jack Leach both claimed 18 wickets in Sri Lanka, while Moeen claimed another 14 in the Caribbean) he has both responded eloquently to Smith’s challenge and re-established himself as the side’s No. 1 spinner.
“It hit me hard,” Moeen said. “It was disappointing. I felt like they were looking for someone else.
“But it spurred me on. I did need that break at the time. Maybe if I’d been picked versus Pakistan I wouldn’t have bowled well. But I came back against India fresh, scoring runs and taking wickets and I felt at the top of my game.
“I still had the belief. So to get back in the side and prove I can do the job is… [pleasing].”
Moeen had endured a grim 2017-18 Ashes. He failed to pass 40 with the bat and claimed only five wickets at a cost of 115 each with the ball. After another wicketless Test in Auckland, he was dropped for the final Test of England’s winter.