Moeen Ali has revealed his excitement at the non-stop white-ball road ahead that ends with the World Cup and declared: “Now is the time.”
And unlike every World Cup campaign since 1992, there is no sniggering or laughing because everyone knows this is indeed England’s time to do something they have never done before and win it.
If they do, then there will be no question as to which is the greatest England one-day team of all time – a crown this team is keen to slip on in July.
The Test series disappointment against the West Indies has been parked for now, and the focus has already turned to the eleven ODIs Eoin Morgan’s tournament hosts will play before their World Cup opener against South Africa at the Oval on May 30.
“I’m very excited,” said Moeen. “We have a clear run of white-ball games and it gives us a focus. There’s no change, just straight through and we know what we need.
“We’re an amazing side, but we know this year is massive for us. It’s not the pressure of winning a trophy, it’s more about doing ourselves justice — we can say we were the best ODI side to play for England, but without a trophy it will be difficult to say that.
“We have come close in the Champions Trophy and the World T20 and we feel now is the time. We don’t feel we have to win it, it’s more, ‘This is the time to win it.’"
Moeen was the leading wicket-taker for England for the second away Test series running in the loss to West Indies here, taking his overall Test tally to 177 above Tony Lock and with Jim Laker in his sights. Having taken 44 wickets in his last eight Tests his quality as a spinner is beyond doubt, and before long he should be able to challenge Graeme Swann’s tally of 255.
It seems incredible that he should be dismissed as a ‘home conditions’ bowler by national selector Ed Smith following an admittedly disappointing Ashes tour, and they were comments that stung.
“It hit me hard,” he added. “Well, it was disappointing. I did need that break at the time, but it spurred me on.
“I felt like they were looking for someone else, but I still had the belief to get back in the side and prove I can do the job. I came back against India fresh, scoring runs and taking wickets, and I felt at the top of my game. I feel like I belong, and to have that many wickets I’ve done better than I thought I ever would.”
And yet incredibly his value to the one day side is arguably greater having struck up a devastating partnership with Adil Rashid.
“In Tests you try to bowl tight and take wickets and that is not easy,” he admitted. “But in ODI cricket, my personal game is to bowl tight for Rash to get the wickets. I feel in ODI if I bowl tight for 40 runs, that pressure builds and Rash will cash in.”
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