Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

Cricket World Cup 2019: England batsmen competing to hit biggest sixes, says Moeen Ali

All-rounder reflects on batting transformation in and change in mindset which have both contributed to remarkable ODI rise

England captain Eoin Morgan smashed his way into the record books, but he has competition in his own team. Jason Cairnduff / Reuters
England captain Eoin Morgan smashed his way into the record books, but he has competition in his own team. Jason Cairnduff / Reuters

Moeen Ali says England’s batsmen do compete among themselves to see who can hit the biggest sixes.

Eoin Morgan set a new world record for sixes in a one-day day international innings by hitting 17 against Afghanistan at Old Trafford on Tuesday. That bettered the previous record of 16, jointly held by Chris Gayle, Rohit Sharma and AB de Villiers.

While each of those three are renowned for their power hitting, Morgan would not necessarily be regarded amongst the biggest strikers of the ball even in his own side.

After his heroics at Old Trafford, the England captain acknowledged that he had considered sending Jos Buttler in ahead of him, while Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and the injured Jason Roy are also all recognised for their power game.

Moeen, who joked that he hit the biggest distance in the 150-run win over Afghanistan, as he made 31 not out from nine balls, says it is a regular topic of conversation in their dressing room.

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“We talk about who hits the biggest sixes,” Moeen said, ahead of England’s latest World Cup fixture, against Sri Lanka at Headingley on Friday.

“I think mine was probably the biggest the other day [against Afghanistan]. We do definitely have a bit of banter about it, and I big myself up a little bit.”

Indulging in such chat contrasts markedly with the atmosphere surrounding the same team four years ago, when a listless England side exited the World Cup early, and were roundly criticised for playing out-dated cricket.

The side has been entirely transformed under Morgan’s leadership since, and Moeen says the world’s No 1-ranked side are craving a trophy to show for it now.

“That improvement, everybody knows, and we have been talking about it for a while now,” the all-rounder said. “As a team we know that a trophy matters for us and hopefully this is it.

"The pressure will be there anyway, but [it is about] not getting too tense, being true to the way we have been playing, and not change during those big pressure situations.

“To win a tournament you have to do that all the time, and more so in pressure situations.

“Our motto almost has been to not take the foot off the gas. Every game we play like it's our last game. Every game is huge.

England all-rounder Moeen Ali, left, the England batsmen have transformed themselves into power hitters. Lee Smith / Reuters
England all-rounder Moeen Ali, left, the England batsmen have transformed themselves into power hitters. Lee Smith / Reuters

“We all know as players that this is probably the only World Cup as a team where we are going to be together at home, so let's make the most of it.”

Dimuth Karunaratne, the Sri Lanka captain, believes the biggest advance this England side have made is in how the play slow bowling.

He suggested they have progressed beyond even the sides from the subcontinent in how they counter spinners.

“I think England have the best batting line-up against the spinners in the world,” Karunaratne said.

“I think if you take the Asian countries, England are playing better than them. We need to think about that, check the ground, and decide what is the best combination for us for the England game.

“Are we playing two spinners? Or are we going with the extra batsman or fast bowlers? Those are the things we are discussing now. They have been a good side against the spinners so far."

Updated: June 20, 2019 10:11 PM

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