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County discover a spin king as Moeen steps up
WHEN Worcestershire embarked on the 2012 campaign, one of the biggest concerns voiced was their apparent lack of a front-line spinner.
Director of cricket Steve Rhodes insisted he was happy to put his faith in batsman Moeen Ali to head up the County’s spin division with his off-breaks.
While many fans were unconvinced by this move, Moeen’s match-winning 12-wicket haul in LV= County Championship Division One against Lancashire at Old Trafford went a long way to justifying Rhodes’ leap of faith.
One man who has had a better look than most at Moeen’s bowling talents, County wicketkeeper Ben Scott, is in no doubt whatsoever about his team-mate’s credentials with the ball.
“Mo is 100 per cent a front-line spinner — his bowling has come on leaps and bounds,” said Scott, who scored his maiden Worcestershire century against the Red Roses to set up the vital 205-run victory.
“When I first joined the club he was good, but having Saeed Ajmal last year was one of the best things that could have happened to Mo.
“Lancashire bowled well, but they didn’t bowl as well as us. “Mo is a proper spinner — not wanting to take away from their spinners, but (Steven) Croft is a bit of a part-time bowler and (Simon) Kerrigan still has a bit of work to do.
“On a spinning wicket you are under pressure as a spin bowler to take the wickets, but Mo recognised that, stuck to his plan and bowled the right line and lengths.”
Scott continued: “In a couple of games last year, as ludicrous as it sounds, Mo equalled Ajmal’s bowling performances. For example, we were down at Sussex and he bowled in tandem with Ajmal, who got five-fer, while Mo took four.
“On that particular day, Mo bowled just as well as Ajmal, if not better, with flight, guile and different paces.”
While training alongside Moeen last season, Pakistani international Ajmal encouraged the England Lions batsman to work on developing a doosra.
Although it will take a long time to perfect the surprise delivery, Scott is eager for Moeen to keep plugging away.
He said: “I’ve seen Mo slip in his doosra a few times, but I’ve also seen a couple of them disappear over the boundary too!
“It’s one of those things — he has been working on it, but it’s just having that confidence to bowl it in a game that he needs at the moment. I’m egging him on every ball to bowl one!”
Meanwhile, Scott also revealed he would be keen to extend his New Road stay beyond the end of this season when his contract is due to expire.
He explained: “I’ve loved my time at Worcester and the guys here are a real pull factor for the club.
“They make life very easy. Cricket can be an up-and-down sport, which can be difficult at times, but having the lads around makes a big difference.
“I’m definitely looking to stay at Worcester, but at the moment we’ll just have to see how things pan out. “There’s a lot of cricket still to be played this season and we’ll see what comes of it.”