• Cricket World Cup

Ali risks goading Johnson ahead of MCG opener

ESPN staff
February 11, 2015
Moeen Ali has faced questions over his ability to deal with the short ball © Cricket Australia

Moeen Ali has risked rousing England's Ashes tormentor Mitchell Johnson ahead of the World Cup, claiming he is "not worried" about the man who took 37 wickets in the last series.

Ali has made a seamless step-up to international cricket in the past year, but has proven vulnerable to the hard and fast bouncer in the past - a delivery that is something of a speciality for Johnson, who claimed Ali's wicket in the Tri-Series final earlier in February.

Despite the glaring weakness, Ali dismissed Johnson's left-handed pace ahead of their World Cup opener against Australia in front of a partisan Melbourne crowd on Saturday.

"There have been times when I've been bounced out, especially against India when I didn't play the short ball very well," said Ali. "But against Australia in the Tri-Series I've felt like I've seen the ball well.

"I just felt that was a good ball from Johnson [in Perth]. I didn't feel like it was too quick, it was just right on the money. Before that I was playing him quite well so I'm not too worried about the short ball."

Perth was the first time Ali had faced Johnson, yet he felt more threatened by Australia's other left-handed Mitchell.

"I found Mitchell Starc quicker - maybe because it was Johnson's first game back. Even though I got a good ball I found Starc harder.

"The fastest I've ever faced I think is Steve Harmison in 2006 or 2007 - that was quick. Obviously that was Johnson's first game back so I don't think he was 100%."

Although Ali's technical weakness has been targeted repeatedly by international attacks, he is not concerned about being a marked man.

"I've felt it," he said. "In Sri Lanka before Christmas they kept bouncing me and stuff. Against India last summer I wasn't sure whether to take it on. I changed my style of play, which was probably the biggest mistake I made.

"For me it's about being 100% committed to the shot. If I'm 100%, most of the time I'll get it. It's when I have a little bit of doubt I don't play as well. So it's about being 100% every ball and being committed to playing that way.

"But I've never had an issue [with the short ball] before, it's just international cricket is different, better quality. It's not something I worry about. I feel like I'm getting better at it and as long as I keep working hard at it I'll be alright."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close