Moores impressed by Moeen

  • Last Updated: August 1 2014, 16:59 BST

England are cautiously starting to wonder whether they have unearthed a gem in Moeen Ali's fast-improving off-spin.

Moeen Ali: Impressed Moores with his level-headed approach
Moeen Ali: Impressed Moores with his level-headed approach

Moeen's maiden international five-wicket haul hastened England to their first Test victory in 11 matches, and almost a year, as they levelled the Investec series against India at 1-1 with two to play.

England have been further boosted by James Anderson being found not guilty of any wrong-doing in his spat with Ravindra Jadeja during the Trent Bridge Test, meaning the seamer will be free to play at Emirates Old Trafford next week.

And coach Peter Moores is increasingly confident another component in their bowling attack is capable of contributing significantly in Manchester and beyond.

Moeen's second-innings six for 67 at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday helped hustle India out for only 178 in England's 266-run victory.

The 27-year-old all-rounder's performance was notably unaffected by the mid-match controversy he sparked by batting in wrist-bands proclaiming 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine'.

Moeen, instructed by the ICC to take them off, was clearly not put off at becoming the centre of attention for non-cricketing reasons - a fact which did not surprise Moores in the slightest.

"Moeen is a very level-headed bloke and that is one of his real strengths," said Moores.

"He stays calm under pressure. So he took it for what it was and moved on."

Moeen made the most of helpful conditions on the final morning in Southampton, having picked up two more fortunate first-innings wickets.

"He's in the side as a batter and a very rapidly emerging bowler, said Moores.

"I think he had a bit of a turning point before the Lord's Test - testament to some of the feedback he got.

"I think Ian Bell was quite important in that."

Moeen took on board advice from his team-mates about how to make the most of his developing skills, against international batsmen.

"Test match cricket is about how rapidly people grow in it," added Moores.

"He's grown very quickly as a bowler and I hope that carries on.

"Mo is a very sensible lad. He knows he's got to keep doing a lot of work."

Moeen already has a Test century to his name, having very nearly saved match and series against Sri Lanka at Headingley.

His second string, however, is proving surprisingly effective for a cricketer billed only as a part-time off-spinner.

The consensus was that England would have to summon a specialist from somewhere eventually this summer, but Moores can dare to hope they have instead discovered one in their midst.

"Well, at the moment he's number one," he said.

"He keeps getting better.

"That's exciting, because you don't know when he's going to stop.

"To get people like (Cheteshwar) Pujara and (Virat) Kohli out early on - they're very high-class players of spin - that's a very good sign for the future."

Moeen's second-innings wickets in Southampton were mostly achieved not with spin - although he did turn the ball sharply at times - but the variation of drifting the ball away from the right-hander or into the left.

"Two things are essential for a top-flight spinner," said Moores.

"He attacks both edges. He gets great drift and he turns the ball - he spins it hard.

"Without those two things it's very difficult - if you only attack one edge of the bat, the way people work you out is quite fast.

"But because Mo creates this drift, I think he is a challenge for all batters."

Moeen was one of several improvements as England finally got their act together to win for the first time since last summer's Ashes.

Captain Alastair Cook returned to form, answering an army of critics who had been calling for him to resign.

Captain and coach's 'new era' therefore has a starting point at last - after two previous draws and two defeats.

Moores has reason to be optimistic, but also realistic - having instilled in his players that they cannot afford to allow a hangover from last winter's Ashes whitewash to linger any longer.

"I think one of the things we were trying to move away from is a mindset that's more defensive, trying to hold on to things," added Moores.

"You're trying to play cricket where you're on the front foot and trying to put people under pressure, and that's the conversation we had.

"I think we know because of so much change and so many new players that we have to work really hard.

"This series is brilliantly poised, but the development of a Test team takes time.

"We are rebuilding, no doubt - and at times we will get things wrong.

"But provided we have everybody totally committed and driving it forward, we will get to where we want to be."