MOEEN Ali has become the first Worcestershire player to be awarded a central contract by the England and Wales Cricket Board after his fine performances for his country.
The 27-year-old all-rounder has made a big impression since first breaking into the England senior set-up for the tour of the West Indies and the ICC Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh last winter.
Moeen played in all seven Tests against Sri Lanka and India this summer and helped fill the spinning role left vacant by Graeme Swann’s retirement mid-way through the Ashes tour.
He picked up 19 wickets in the Indian series including 6-67 in the win at the Ageas Bowl.
That followed on from Moeen’s maiden Test hundred against the Sri Lankans at Headingley when he came within one delivery of saving the game on the final day.
Moeen said: “I am very chuffed but it is important I keep my feet on the ground, keep doing the right things and working hard. I am not getting too carried away. It’s very nice and I am pleased with it but the hard work starts now.
“It is pleasing for the club and they will always be a special part of me. I love playing for England and want to do the best I can and this is a nice reward for all the hard work. These kind of things drive you and inspire you to do even more.”
Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes showed faith in Moeen’s spinning potential after Gareth Batty’s departure at the end of the 2009 season which ultimately led to his England call-up.
He said: “As a coach, one of your jobs is to produce England players. I don’t want to take credit for things. All the credit goes to Moeen as he is the one who has put all the work in, he is the one who has got in a very good state of mind for playing cricket and he is the one who is out there batting and bowling.
“It is thoroughly deserved. I am delighted for Worcestershire and I am delighted for him and the dressing room. Moeen is a flagship and someone his fellow team mates want to follow and aspire to achieve the things he has achieved.”