Moeen Ali has promised to play with freedom against South Africa, after a confidence-boosting end to England’s Test warm-ups.
Moeen made his first significant contribution of the trip on the final morning against South Africa A, spinning his way to figures of six for 77 as the hosts suffered an innings-and-91-run defeat in Pietermaritzburg.
Moeen’s spell completed a highly satisfactory workout for the tourists, who easily bested a side packed with Test hopefuls.
England will again deploy the Worcestershire all-rounder as a No 8 batsman and senior spinner against the Proteas, with the experiment of using him as a makeshift opener having been hastily ditched.
Moeen had been eager to climb the batting order but, with a top score of 35 in six innings against Pakistan, admits he is now excited about reclaiming his old role.
“I can’t wait. I’m actually looking forward to going back to eight and playing a few shots, hopefully freeing up,” he said. “Obviously opening didn’t work. I enjoyed it and it was a really good experience, but I didn’t score the runs I’d have liked.
“I probably got caught in two minds at times whether to attack or not but things like that happen. ”
South Africa A coach Vinny Barnes insisted his side represented the strongest available players outside the Test team, but felt let down by their tame showing.
“I’m disappointed and I let the players know that,” he said. “I would have liked to have seen one or two more put their hands up and put pressure on players in the Proteas set-up.”