All-rounder Moeen Ali has highlighted the huge impact Saqlain Mushtaq made in getting him back to Test selection after being dropped last winter.
Though Ali spent a brief period out of England’s plans before being recalled for the fourth Test against India, he says the four months away allowed him to seek bowling consultant Mushtaq out for advice which has led to his bowling hitting its peak.
In the three Tests since Ali has taken 20 wickets at an average of 19.45, hitting his stride in the first Test against Sri Lanka this week when dismissing 8 batsmen in England’s first win abroad in 14 matches.
“After getting dropped last winter, I needed to work out how to get back into the side, so I went back to Worcester, tried a few things and spoke to [England spin bowling consultant] Saqlain Mushtaq,” Ali wrote in his Tour Diary for Sky Sports.
“I now feel I know more about my bowling than ever.
The 31-year-old was one of the casualties of England’s disastrous Ashes tour Down Under having claimed a lowly five wickets across the five-Test series and faring little better with the bat.
But a double century on the county circuit for Worcestershire grabbed the attention of selectors, who abandoned the idea of having Joe Root bat at no.3 after the third Test against India this summer.
Reflecting on his nine wickets in the fourth Test at the Ageas Bowl, Ali said: “Things have gone well with my bowling since I came back into the side in Southampton over the summer. I’d say my break refreshed me, more than anything.
“Saqi has been huge for me. He helps me out in all aspects – technically, mentally but, more than all that, tactically. As an off-spin coach he is an absolute genius and always has something for us as a group of spinners.”
“He has so much knowledge about bowing spin that it’s almost too much for us at times. He doesn’t want to talk too much about things as he could probably confuse us! It’s great that we have him as he is so far ahead of the pack as a spinning coach.”
England could continue with their three-pronged spin attack of Ali, Adil Rashid and Jack Leach for the second Test in Kandy starting on Wednesday.