England head coach Trevor Bayliss has tipped Moeen Ali to become a world-class spinner after his second innings five-for underpinned his side’s series-clinching 177-run victory in the fourth Investec Test against South Africa.
Chasing an almost fanciful 380 runs to win, the Proteas were dismissed for 202 as seamer James Anderson joined Moeen in the wicket-taking stakes by claiming 3-16 at Old Trafford – his home ground.
Victory handed the hosts a 3-1 win in the four-match series and lifted them into third place and above Australia, who they will meet this winter in defence of the Ashes, in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings.
As for Moeen, Bayliss claimed the psychology of depicting him as England’s second spinner, or a batsman who occasionally bowled, had worked a treat after he finished the series as the leading wicket-taker with 25.
“There is no doubt he is our No1 spinner and we’re all hoping that he turns into a world-class spinner, certainly what he has done in this series puts him well on the way,” said Bayliss.
“He has still got a bit of work to do but knowing Mo he won’t leave anything to chance; he is one of the hardest workers in the team, whether batting or bowling he is always the last to leave the nets.
“He does it in a quiet manner, there are no histrionics with him. He just gets the job done and he’s a great team man.”
Despite England’s series success, Bayliss admits there are still conundrums to solve in England’s batting line up and selections to discuss prior to their next assignment, a three-Test battle against West Indies starting on 17 August at Edgbaston.
Of principal concern is opener Keaton Jennings, who only averaged 15.87 across the four games, while newcomer Dawid Malan, batting at No5, managed just 35 runs in his four innings.
“We’re not papering over the cracks, we know there are some spots that haven’t been cemented down and we’re still looking for those guys to prove their worth at this level,” added Bayliss.
“We’ve got a selection meeting later this week. I’m not going to speculate who might or might not be in the team but there are obviously a few spots which will be discussed.”
As for now, Australian Bayliss was happy to enjoy England’s first Test series win since they beat Sri Lanka in the early stages of last summer. “The Ashes for any Australian or Englishman would be the No1,” he said.
“But certainly both the series wins against South Africa – both home and away – have been a fantastic effort. It’s a feather in the cap for the England boys.”
Moeen also starred with the bat but was left stranded on 75 not out as England lost their two remaining wickets and were bowled out for 243 in their second innings.
Anderson, Stuart Broad and Toby Roland-Jones then claimed a wicket apiece to reduce South Africa to 40-3 before a 123-run stand between Hashim Amla and skipper Faf du Plessis rekindled hope.
Moeen, who claimed a hat-trick at the Kia Oval in the third Test, snared his first scalp by trapping Amla lbw and proceeded to dismiss Quinton de Kock and Theunis de Bruyn in quick succession.
Any remaining South African optimsim was extinguished when Anderson removed Du Plessis, caught behind by Jonny Bairstow, for 61, while Moeen mopped up the tail with the wickets of Morne Morkel and Duanne Olivier.