Moeen Ali speaks to ecb.co.uk ahead of the first Investec Test against Sri Lanka, in which he could make his debut
Moeen Ali believes his first call-up to the England Test squad could not have come at a better time.
The Worcestershire all-rounder was named in the squad for the first Investec Test against Sri Lanka, which starts on Thursday at Lord’s.
It is the first game of the Peter Moores and Alastair Cook era, with Moeen joined in the 12-man party by fellow potential debutants Chris Jordan and Sam Robson, as well as the returning Liam Plunkett, whose last five-day appearance was in 2007.
With so much change – as well as a thrilling Royal London one-day series between the two nations – excitement levels are high approaching the first Test of the summer.
And that feeling is matched by the 26-year-old Moeen, who hopes to make his way through the Long Room in an England shirt this week.
He told ecb.co.uk: “I’ve played a few Test matches in the back garden with my brother, but they’re different! I’m very excited. Words can’t describe how excited I am. I just can’t wait to get out there.
“The timing is brilliant. I had a good knock last week so I’m ready to play.
"I’ve had a couple of good seasons and a good start to the season so I feel I’m ready mentally and physically.
“Ever since I got the call I’ve been wanting to get out there. I can’t wait to walk through that room and get out there.”
Moeen will be the main spin bowler if selected, as life after Graeme Swann begins.
Replacing such a pivotal figure in England’s recent history will bring inevitable comparisons from all quarters, but Moeen insists he is not there to be the next ‘Graeme Swann’.
“I’m not looking to fill his boots, to be honest with you. He’s obviously a fantastic bowler,” he said.
“I’m just looking to do my game and bowl how I bowl. If I try to be someone else I won’t perform as well as I probably could.
“If I just be myself, bowl how I bowl, I’m pretty happy no matter what the outcome.”
One thing that Swann did not have in his locker was a doosra. Moeen does, and has been honing his technique in the county game under the guidance of Worcestershire team-mate and Pakistan international Saeed Ajmal.
Moeen admits it took some getting used to, but feels ready to deliver one in Test cricket.
He said: “As a youngster I’ve always been able to bowl a top-spinner, so I feel like that has helped me a lot. My action is pretty open anyway, my off-spin action, so it’s a little bit easier for me (to adapt).
“There’re just a few things I have to tinker with in terms of my front foot and stuff. The grip was tough, the hardest thing is holding the ball in a different way, but I feel that my fingers have adjusted really well and I can do it.”
But it’s not just the Sri Lankan batsman that Moeen is hoping to surprise. He is excited at having the opportunity to show his talents to a global audience in the game’s longest form.
He said: “I feel like I know what I need to do - try and bowl as tight as I can and maybe pick up a few wickets from there. I’m pretty confident in my bowling.
“I think a lot of people haven’t seen me bowl in the longer format so hopefully I can surprise a few people.”