Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Moeen Impresses On Test Debut And Earns England Increment Contract

Moeen Impresses On Test Debut And Earns England Increment Contract

Moeen Ali fell just short of scoring an impressive half century on his Test debut against Sri Lanka at Lord's yesterday – but his efforts for his country during the past four months have earned him an England increment contract for 2013-2014.

The Worcestershire all-rounder qualifies for the award by virtue of playing three ODIs and two T20s against the West Indies, four T20s in the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh and in the current Test.

Non-contracted players can earn an England increment contract via a points system.

Five points are awarded for a Test appearance and two for a T20 or ODI appearance, with an increment contract being awarded automatically once the player reaches 20 points during the 12-month contract period.

Ali looked at home after coming to the wicket on Thursday with England in some trouble at 120-4 shortly after lunch following the dismissal of Ian Bell for 56.

The 26-year-old played several sparkling shots and added 89 for the fifth wicket with Joe Root on a gloriously sunny day.

But after making 48 Ali aimed a drive at spinner Rangana Herath and was caught at slip by Mahela Jayawardene.

He faced a total of 98 balls and hit six fours and a six and departed with the total on 209.

Although he will be disappointed to have fallen just after tea, Ali can take great heart from not looking out of place on his England Test breakthrough.

Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes and Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell would have felt a great sense of pride at watching Ali in action after giving up a rare day away from county action to travel to Lord's.

His innings demonstrated some typically stylish shots and the occasional edges which brought him a couple of boundaries.

Ali was given time to adjust to the pace of the wicket as he did not have to play at the first six deliveries from Shaminda Eranga.

He showed his class by getting off the mark with a confident four off his legs at the expense of the same bowler.

Two thick edges for four and a superb on drive to the boundary – all off Eranga – saw him race to 18 off 14 balls.

Ali also hoisted Herath for six and ended the afternoon session with a rasping drive on the up for four off Lahiru Thirimanne.

But, after collecting a boundary off Nuwan Kulasekara after the resumption, Ali fell to the Jayawardene-Herath combination.

Root hit an unbeaten 102 and Matt Prior 76 not out as England closed the day on 344-5 from 89 overs.

Prior fell for 86 early on the second day and then Chris Jordan for 19 but England passed 400 in Test cricket for the first time in 27 innings since against New Zealand in Wellington in March 2013.

By lunch they had reached 473-8 with Root 152 not out despite Sri Lanka bowling only 24 overs in the pre lunch session.

The declaration came at 575-9 once Root had completed his double century.

Ali made his bowling bow at 90-1 in the Sri Lankan reply, and he sent down three tidy overs for three runs. Sri lanka closed on 140-1.