By Shane Thomas
As England suffered an expected series defeat to Pakistan, one of the many subplots to come from the postmortem was the injudicious selection of Moeen Ali to open the batting alongside Alastair Cook, despite having never played in such a specialist position before. It was a disastrous choice, as Moeen only scored 84 runs in the series, with his batting travails possibly affecting his bowling.But I'm loathe to criticise him too fervently. Moeen may have performed his duties haplessly, but did so without complaint. It appears he's fast becoming like that person in your workplace who'll do any job asked of them. They'll stay late, they'll work weekends, they'll cover someone else's shift.
But playing Test cricket isn't a mundane 9-to-5, and it's a waste of Moeen's abilities if he ends up as the lovable mascot who'll follow instructions, even if it's to the detriment of the team's performance.
At his best, he's a dazzling talent, but right now, he's England's very own "muggins".
"We haven't got a spinner. It's alright, Moeen will do it." "We need someone willing to sacrifice their wicket batting aggressively at No. 8. It's alright, Moeen will do it." "We need someone to open the batting. It's alright, Moeen will do it."
Even though none one of those things are Moeen's strengths, he keeps doing whatever's asked of him. It's a sad indictment of this England side, and may end up wrecking the career of a man who has the potential to be one of our most important athletes.
AND IN OTHER NEWS...
- I think it's fair to say that Sam Burgess's time in rugby union didn't work out. That seems to be the only thing that everyone can agree on where Burgess is concerned.
This story isn't one that's short on moiety. But what I find most disheartening is the way Burgess is being used to force open the dormant faultlines between rugby union and rugby league. Depending what side of the divide you fall on - if you fall on either - Burgess's brief union sojourn is ostensible proof of the superiority of the other code.
He either was too arrogant, thinking he could immediately adapt to a new sport; or he was treated shabbily by a supercilious fanbase and punditocracy, who were desperate for him to fail. He's better off back home in league, anyway. Watch him show those union toffs what they're missing out on.
Personally, I find it saddening that he's being used as a pawn in this way. The froideur between rugby union and rugby league is an ongoing blight on the sporting landscape. And while league fans have historical reasons for feeling enmity towards union, one hopes that fans of each can enjoy their preferred code without using it to denounce the other.
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