ENGLAND all-rounder and World Cup winner Moeen Ali has been made available for selection as the Worcestershire Rapids launch the defence of their Vitality Blast title with a trip to Trent Bridge.
Moeen has been given the green light to play by England against Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge tomorrow (Thursday) and the following evening’s sold-out meeting with Birmingham Bears at New Road.
The 32-year-old captained the Rapids to glory in last September’s finals day triumph over Lancashire in the semi-finals and Sussex in the final and was part of the triumphant England ICC World Cup-winning squad as he made five appearances in the tournament for his country.
He made significant contributions with bat and ball on finals day last year and his coolness and calmness in the captaincy role in the cauldron at Edgbaston were key elements.
Moeen will be making his first appearances of the summer for Worcestershire after a hectic spell of international cricket.
With New Zealander Martin Guptill also set to join up with the Rapids after being part of the Black Caps side narrowly beaten in the World Cup final, it is a mouth-watering Rapids line-up for the start of the Vitality Blast North Group campaign.
Pears chief Matt Rawnsley has paid tribute to the England team after their sensational World Cup final win and offered his commiserations to Guptill.
Rawnsley witnessed a dramatic triumph at Lord’s for Eoin Morgan’s team after 50 overs per side and a Super Over had been unable to separate the teams.
The Black Caps needed two off the final ball and Guptill was run out attempting the second run and, with the scores level, England won by virtue of hitting more boundaries in the game.
“That will go down as one of the most dramatic days in all sporting history.” said Rawnsley. “If there was a script that you could write for the best climax to the competition, then we watched that on Sunday. What an advert for the game. Huge congratulations to England.
“Although he didn’t play in the final, Moeen Ali has been a key part of the team which climbed to number one in the world.
“He won his 100th ODI cap during the tournament and congrats to him for his contribution. He will be a very proud man.
“Obviously our commiserations go out to Guppy who came so close to winning the trophy for New Zealand who have done themselves great credit after reaching a second successive World Cup final.
“They showed great humility after the game, which I witnessed first-hand. They are great ambassadors for their country and the sport.
“We look forward to him joining up with us and displaying the brand of fantastic cricket he has already demonstrated to our supporters last summer.”