Moeen eyes England chance
Worcestershire all-rounder Moeen Ali has set his sights on an England call-up after scooping the FTI Most Valuable Player Award.
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The 26-year-old pipped rival Samit Patel on the penultimate day of the LV= Championship season when his second innings 44 off 70 balls and six for 77 helped to secure victory over promoted Northamptonshire and overhaul the Nottinghamshire man.
The award, and a cheque for £10,000, capped a fine individual season for Moeen, whose efforts have seen him included in the England Performance Programme squad for this winter.
But, having worked his way through the international age groups, he is in no mood to stop there and has high hopes of following the likes of Ben Stokes, Boyd Rankin and Gary Balance in forcing his way into contention for senior recognition.
Asked if the trio, who have been selected for the Ashes tour, had blazed a trail for him, Moeen said: "Yes, definitely.
"It seems that way, anyway, at the moment. It seems that you have to go through the whole development thing first and then they pick you.
"I think all the new lads who are playing at the moment have been on that trip in the last couple of years.
"Being in the system since I was a kid, you know how it works a bit more and now that I am a bit more mature in my game and off the field, it hopefully will help me settle in well."
England's recent success as been based on an enviable strength in depth and the selectors had to make difficult decisions before finalising their touring party for Australia.
However, Stokes, Rankin and Balance and Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow before them have demonstrate there is a pathway to the top and, while Moeen acknowledges that the competition is intense, he knows the opportunity is there.
He said: "I definitely agree with that. There are so many good batters and bowlers and all-rounders out there that it is tough.
"But it they all get their chance at some stage and you are probably not as far as you think most of the time.
"Hopefully if I can get into the mix as well now, it would be nice."
Birmingham-born Moeen will head into the winter in fine form having plundered 2016 runs and 52 wickets in all forms of the game this summer, and he believes his right-arm off-spin will enhance his chances of breaking into the England ranks.
He said: "I don't just consider myself as a batter, I think I am a batting all-rounder, really, and my bowling is much better than people actually think.
"It's another way to get into the side and keep yourself busy when you are fielding and looking forward to bowling.
"Sometimes if you are competing as a batter, the bowling might just give you that extra bit."
In the meantime, Moeen will be able to reflect upon his award and a good season's work.
He said: "Personally, it has been a good year in all forms. I think I was in the top 10 in all the competitions, so it's just a nice reward for hard work."