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England Should Stick with Ali for Decider

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Since the retirement of Andrew Strauss, England have failed to find a partner for Alistair Cook at the top of the order. Nick Compton, Sam Robson and Adam Lyth have all tried and failed to fill Strauss’ boots, and the current incumbent in the role, Moeen Ali, is already coming under pressure just two matches into his new role.

Ali has not pulled up any trees in the four innings he has had as an opener so far. However, in the first Test against Pakistan, Ali’s first innings at the top of the order, he showed he could dig in by making a hard earned 36. In the second innings he was out cheaply, although he was slogging out to try and force an England win.

He had a poor second Test and failed to make double figures in either innings, but this can happen to the best in international cricket and it would be harsh to remove Ali from the top of the order after one poor match.

There were theories that Ali’s bowling was suffering as a result of him opening the innings, although it must be remembered he was no Shane Warne when he was batting further down the order. His bowling has always been inconsistent and many would agree he should be in the side due to his batting, not his bowling.

There has been much debate over where the Worcestershire all-rounder should bat in the order and how to get the best out of him. Number eight, his position this summer, is far too low for someone with his batting ability. Long term it may be that Ali can take the number five position, a place that Johnny Bairstow is yet to make his own since Joe Root’s promotion up the order. However, for now it is likely that Bairstow will be given time to prove himself.

If England do decide to relegate Ali down the order, they may have to sacrifice a bowler. James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood have all performed well this tour, and all-rounder Ben Stokes has chipped in with wickets. Leaving one of these three out would be a big call.

In the long-term, England will no doubt want a specialist opener at the top of the order. However, for now they should stick with Ali and hope he can produce a big innings to help England level the series, which they currently trail 1-0.

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