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ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA TESTS

Moeen hails Saqlain role in success

08 August 2017

AFP


AFP


England allrounder took South Africa by storm with sensational series, and says he owes it all to the help of a Paksitan legend

Moeen Ali has paid tribute to the "amazing" Saqlain Mushtaq for his role in helping the England allrounder enjoy a record-breaking Test series against South Africa.

Moeen, a 30-year-old off-spinner and left-handed batsman, became the first man in cricket history to score more than 250 runs and take 25 wickets in a four-match Test series during the course of England's 3-1 victory over the Proteas.

Moeen has often been regarded, even by himself, as a "second spinner" when the likes of Hampshire left-armer Liam Dawson have been in the England side.

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But under the guidance of England spin-bowling coach Saqlain, a former Pakistan off-spinner and star of a Surrey side that won English County Championship titles at the turn of the century, Moeen's bowling has improved markedly.

Saqlain celebrates a wicket in a 2001 Old Trafford Test // Getty

"'Saqqy' has been amazing for me in terms of helping with my fields, helping me understand my bowling a lot more than I had done previously – and I think that has been the biggest difference," said Moeen after bowling England to a 177-run win in the fourth Test at Old Trafford with more than a day to spare on Monday.

"Little things like that can make a big difference," explained Moeen, who ended the match with two wickets in two balls for an innings return of 5-69 after finishing England's victory in the third Test at The Oval with a hat-trick.

Moeen's historic hat-trick seals England win

"Before, I just bowled, (and) didn't really think too much," added Moeen, who started the series with a 10-wicket haul in England's first Test win at Lord's.

"I let the captain set the field. I would say I set the field a lot more throughout this series."

The South Africa series saw Moeen, who showed his batting class with an unbeaten 75 not out in England's second innings at Old Trafford, cement his position of fourth in the International Cricket Council rankings for Test allrounders.

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"I feel a lot more confident in my ability," he said.

"I feel like it was building... I had been batting well over the last year, and the bowling was coming."

England spinners run through South Africa

Joe Root, whose first series as England captain ended with a decisive victory, has been delighted by Worcestershire star Moeen's progress.

"He is definitely improving all the time," said Root. 

"I hope it's not just a one-off series, and he can go on now and do it again and again."