Do Testing times lie ahead for Moeen?

Worcester News: ENGLAND AWAITS: Moeen Ali hopes 2014 will see him get a full international call-up. ENGLAND AWAITS: Moeen Ali hopes 2014 will see him get a full international call-up.

IT would be tough to write a better script than the one Moeen Ali penned himself this year and the Worcestershire all-rounder admits the prospect of Test cricket has never been closer.

An age-group prodigy, Moeen was captain of England Under 19s at just 15 and won the Denis Compton medal in successive years as a junior but struggled to truly deliver on that promise until this summer.

Now 26, he was named Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player after scoring 1,375 runs to top the charts in Division Two in addition to his 28 wickets.

His reward was a call-up to the England Performance Programme squad which is touring Australia and he continued his form, scoring 83 and 25 not out in the draw with Queensland Second XI.

Off the pitch Ali became a father for the first time in September with his son, Abu Bakr, arriving in time to wave him off to Australia for what a proud father hopes is the rekindling of an international career that once burned bright with promise.

“I feel like I deserve it, and it’s a brilliant reward for me as I feel like I really achieved this year. I worked on a lot in the winter last year and wanted to be as consistent as I can,” he said.

“I feel like it’s justified for my whole season. I always felt like I had big innings in me so it was just getting more consistent, and I’m always looking to improve my batting and it’s nicely coming on now.

“Firstly to get the nod against Australia (for the Lions at Northampton in August), getting 61 there was nice. It is good to get back after a few years break, I feel like I deserved it now and I’m really looking to push on and do the best I can.

“From here depending on how I do hopefully I will get picked for the Lions tour to Sri Lanka.

“It has been a good year because I won a couple of awards and there was the birth of my child as well. It was really nice because my brother had a baby and when things like that happen you’ve just got to cherish it.

“I feel like I’ve grown up and feel all the things that are happening are things I have worked for.

“Even before when there was a break I worked hard on my game and I’m working on things that are really suiting me now, and I’m still searching to be as good as I can.”

Moeen’s call-up to the EPP squad brought him closer still to England’s inner sanctum and the all-rounder was a keen observer as the senior side prepared for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane.

While the former Warwickshire youth was left in doubt about the step up in class required, he is certain he is capable of breaching the gap.

“Watching the guys train before the Test really was an amazing experience,” he said.

“I was thinking ‘this is unbelievable’ and you don’t actually realise until you see them train that this is a different level in terms of intensity.”

He added: “It really was an eye-opener but it was something I saw and want to be a part of.

“I never look at anybody as a superhero or anything like that, they are all human at the end of the day, but bowling at guys like Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell you realise how good they are, and it also shows what kind of level you have to be at as an international player, and not just an international player but a top international player.”

Follow the England Performance Programme squad at ecb.co.uk/epp

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