Time and again, we come across a closely fought series, that is eventually decided by the heroics of one or two exceptionally in form players. The series between England and South Africa which concluded yesterday was one such affair, where the hosts can attribute their historic 3-1 win to the all round duo of Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes.
Ali, in particular, breathed fire throughout as his 252 runs with the bat and 25 wickets proved to be the difference between the two teams ultimately.
Watching Ali bowl, one could clearly conclude that there was a clear difference in his bowling, from the time he was hammered in India the previous winter. His accuracy throughout the four Tests stood out and he was thereby able to maintain that pressure.
Another tactical advantage to England this time around stood in the fact that Ali batted at 8, a position below his usual slot. That gave England the room to play an extra batsman while the off spinner chipped in as a full-time bowler.
According to former skipper Michael Vaughan, this strategy should be persisted for the long term.
“With all the power in Stokes, Bairstow, Ali, Woakes, I wonder why do we have to have a set order?” said Vaughan. “Why can’t we go into a new era of Test cricket and say ‘the top five are set, but six downwards, we’ll juggle it about’?”For example, on a day where right-handers are more useful, we’ll send one of those in.”
Mentioning that England needed a new opener and a middle order batsman, Vaughan added,
“They need a number two and a number five, but keep Moeen at eight,” said Vaughan.”He is a wonderful player and I like him in that position – I like the batting lineup being deep.”