England are now odds-on to win the Test series against South Africa, yet Ralph Ellis says we still don't realise just how good match winner Moeen Ali has become...
"It doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to see Moeen having to ride to the rescue after another collapse at Trent Bridge, yet he is a healthy 14-1 on the Sportsbook to be England’s top 1st innings run scorer."
It's only when you start looking at the list of players who haven't scored 2,000 runs and taken 100 wickets in just 38 Test matches that you start to realise just how good Moeen Ali must be.
There's a certain Sir Ian Botham there, for a start. He needed 42 games; then there's the great Sir Garfield Sobers who took 48, Imran Khan and Kapil Dev on 50, with Jacques Kallis and Richard Hadlee trailing behind on 54.
I argued back last October that Moeen was probably the least appreciated England cricketer of all-time and not a lot has changed despite the 10-wicket haul that set up the first Test win over South Africa at Lord's since 1960. Crikey, even I can't remember that one!
His man of the match performance has made England [1.74] favourites to follow up with another victory when the second Test begins at Nottingham on Friday.
Yet we're still being told this morning that new captain Joe Root and head coach Trevor Bayliss view him as their "second spinner" behind Liam Dawson.
That's even though we are talking about a player who has just become the first off-spinner since 1951 to take 10 wickets in a Lord's Test, and the first Englishman to hit more than a century and take 10 wickets in the same match since the said Sir Ian Botham achieved the feat in Mumbai against India back in 1980.
Moeen's batting had already made all the difference in a match England could easily have lost. Don't forget we'd slumped to 190-5 when he came to the crease in the first innings but together with Root he then took it on to 367 before the skipper was out.
And even before you start talking about the six-wicket match-winning haul in South Africa's 2nd innings when the pitch was turning square, don't forget he got the prize scalps of both captain Dean Elgar and danger man Hashim Amla in the first knock.
It doesn't take a great stretch of the imagination to see Moeen having to ride to the rescue after another collapse at Trent Bridge, yet he is a healthy 14-1 on the Sportsbook to be England's top 1st innings run scorer.
Moeen says he's benefitted greatly from working with England's new spin bowling consultant Saqlain Mushtaq, encouraged to bowl a more aggressive line and shape to take wickets rather than just strangle the runs. The result is he's done both, with the best economy figures as well as the most wickets.
And just like Botham he also comes up with brilliant bits of fielding too, like the stunning catch that dismissed JP Duminy off Mark Wood's bowling from the last ball before tea yesterday.
Despite the emphatic Lord's win you still sense there isn't a lot between the two sides - certainly Root got lucky winning his first toss as an England captain and a few bits of bad fielding helped both him and Jonny Bairstow to score crucial runs.
So I'm not sure I'd rush to back 4-0 in the Series Score market just yet.
But an England 2-0 result at [7.4], allowing for a couple of draws, does look attractive and it would be a perfect start for Root's more positive era to achieve the first series victory over South Africa since 1998. By then Moeen could be well on the way to his next milestone.