Moeen Ali believes England has benefited enormously from having two vastly different bowling attacks for Tests and limited-overs matches, with the freshness of Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett contributing greatly to an ODI series win in Australia with two matches to spare.
While Plunkett was injured in the third game in Sydney and is set to be replaced by one of Tom Curran or David Willey for the Australia Day match in Adelaide, Moeen said he and Wood had been key parts of the contrasting results on this tour. Neither of England’s leading long-form bowlers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, are chosen for ODI matches anymore, and Wood and Plunkett were able to provide an instant impact against Australia’s batsmen.
By contrast, the Australian pace attack that prospered during the Tests – Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins – has looked somewhat below their best across the opening three matches, as the home side’s coaching and support staff try to manage their energy levels and workloads between now and next month’s Test tour of South Africa.
“We did that a couple of years ago where Jimmy and Broady stopped playing white-ball cricket, we’ve got bowlers who are fresh when they come into the teams,” Moeen said in Adelaide. “After the Ashes series we had Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett, who are guys that bowl fast. When you’ve played the Ashes and lost and fresh faces come in to lift the dressing room, the environment is completely different.
“Our 50-over team has been very strong, it’s a team a lot of countries want to emulate as much as they can. We’re very proud of it and we see it as a big thing actually. To be 3-0 up here for the first time ever is fantastic and we really are determined to win 5-0. We’ve got some brilliant players who can’t get into the team and you don’t want to give your spot up. You want to be part of this team.
Aaron Finch the leading runscorer in series from either side, is out of the Adelaide match with a hamstring strain, but Moeen said that even with two centuries and a 50 in three innings, England were happy with how they had handled him.
“He’s played really well but even with him scoring big runs we’ve managed to bowl quite well at him,” Moeen said. “He’s not destroyed us or taken the game away from us. We’re very pleased against a player like him, who has scored a lot of runs but we’ve still managed to win the games quite convincingly.”
As one of the members of the squad to experience both Test and limited-overs series, Moeen said the contrast had been marked. “It’s obviously been tough,” he said. “A series win is going to be fantastic, 5-0 would be an amazing feeling. The Ashes was gone pretty early in the series, which was disappointing, and from a personal point of view it’s been a long tour. It started with a disappointing half but hopefully in the second half we can enjoy it.
“With the Test matches I struggled throughout, the harder I tried the worse I got. The one-day stuff the intensity is there but the pressure is not as much. We have a stable team, the guys have been together a long time now and we know what we’re doing. It’s a lot different to the Tests in terms of the way we play.
“It’s not as easy [to play with freedom]. When you’re playing well as an individual in Test cricket you do that anyway. With the one-dayers it’s almost a given, go out and play the way you play. We bat all the way down. You can’t do that in Test cricket as much but our one-day stuff is great to be part of.”