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England ace Moeen Ali back for Worcs opener

MOEEN ALI: Back for County.

MOEEN ALI: Back for County.

First published in Sport

MOEEN Ali will make an instant return from England action to the Worcestershire side for Sunday’s opening LV= County Championship clash with Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.

The 26-year-old made the breakthrough at senior level for England this winter, playing in nine one-day internationals and Twenty20 matches during the tour of the West Indies and the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh.

Moeen only flew home on Tuesday but now looks to press his claims to be part of the Test side after finishing as the leading run-scorer in the County Championship for the 2013 campaign.

Worcestershire chief executive David Leatherdale said: “I’m absolutely delighted for him. I suppose you could argue it has been a tough six to eight months for England from after the Ashes.

“Moeen has had his opportunity and taken his chances in a couple of games and hopefully, while it has been tough for the last couple of T20 games, he will be part of the set-up going forward.

“It is very much a new era for England. Obviously, Moeen did brilliantly last year, which got him in the England fold, and he has probably got to continue that.

“If he carries on the consistency he has shown in the last 12 to 18 months, then hopefully he will be part of the England set-up for quite some time.

“The balance for him is how far he can push on from the one-day stuff into the next level (Test matches). Obviously, England will decide who is going to be running the show (after Andy Flower) in the next month or so and hopefully Moeen will be part of it.”

Leatherdale confirmed: “Moeen will be available to play on Sunday in our first game at Hampshire.

“He is available now and then England pick their one-day squads in early May for the Scotland game. He is with us for the start of the season and free to play.”

Director of cricket Steve Rhodes hopes Moeen’s England breakthrough will inspire other County players to aim for the same heights.

He said: “No-one hit more balls in practice than Moeen and he thoroughly deserved his Lions call-up firstly. Then it’s fantastic he has kicked on to get into the team that played in the West Indies and the ICC World Twenty20.

“What a fantastic thing that is for this club. We’ve now got an England player who loves playing here.

“The knock-on effect will be massive hopefully. There is already a buzz in the dressing room to know we’ve got a player of that calibre who can play international cricket.

“But also the guys see what he has done with a bit of hard work, recognise that and believe, with a similar amount of work, they could achieve something like that.

“It is a real buzz for Moeen, the dressing room and the club.”

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