Worcestershire´s Moeen Ali wary of Jos Buttler threat at finals day
Moeen Ali knows better than most about the perils of bowling at England team-mate Jos Buttler, but is ready to try his luck when the team-mates turn rivals at Vitality Blast finals day.
Four days after sharing a dressing room at The Oval and celebrating a 4-1 Test series win over India, the pair will add a sprinkle of star quality as they go head to head in the first semi-final at a sold-out Edgbaston.
All-rounder Moeen will be leading the charge for a Worcestershire side making their first appearance in the showpiece, while 2015 champions Lancashire will be delighted to call on one of the world’s most devastating white-ball batsmen in Buttler. Whoever comes out on top will take on the winner of Sussex versus Somerset.
England team-mates Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali will be on opposing sides at Edgbaston (John Walton/PA)
Moeen admits his off-spin holds few secrets for a man who has kept wicket to him for several years but claims to have held his own against Buttler when they have gone one-on-one in training.
“I’m not sure I want to bowl at him too much. He’s seen everything I’ve got, but it only takes one ball, one mistake,” said the 31-year-old.
“He’s an incredible player and with the way he’s been playing this year we’re going to have to try and get him out early somehow but I’m sure we’ve got something up our sleeve.
“I’ve bowled at him plenty of times. He’s hit me for many sixes in the nets but I’ve got him out many times too. I’ve got more of a chance because I can bowl at him and he won’t be bowling at me.”
Another England international ready to take to the domestic game’s biggest stage is Lancashire’s Keaton Jennings.
He endured a torrid series against India, averaging 18.11 in nine innings at the top of the order and looking devoid of any authority at the crease.
There was never any question of the Red Rose leaving him on the sidelines, particularly after his match-winning 46 in the quarter-final against Kent.
“Yes, of course Keats will play,” said skipper Liam Livingstone.
“He has been a massive part of our white-ball cricket. He’s been our rock in the middle order in Twenty20 cricket, won us games and played unbelievably well.
“Keats will fit seamlessly back into that middle order. It’s great to have someone with his quality to bring back in.”
Sussex are unable to call on Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, the world’s number one T20 bowler who took 17 wickets at 14.35 in the group stages, but still boast an exciting bowling attack.
Jofra Archer, Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills are an intimidating pace trio, while Danny Briggs and Will Beer will pick up spin duties in Rashid’s absence.
“If we had him it would be a huge advantage, he’s the best in the world,” said Sussex captain Luke Wright.
“But we played the quarter-final and the last group game without him and managed to win both. It’s a nice thing to have pace as well, and our attack is fast and quite intimidating at times.”
Wright’s opposite number, Lewis Gregory, was one of Somerset’s young prospects when they last reached finals day in 2012.
That experience ended with defeat to Hampshire in the last four and he has warned his side will need to settle quickly in front of 24,000 fans.
“It’s been a while, it’s our first time in six years,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys in our dressing room who haven’t experienced what we’re going to experience tomorrow.
“There’s a lot of talent in all four teams. Whoever handles the pressure throughout the day will probably come out on top. We’ve got to enjoy the moment and enjoy the big stage.”
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