Moeen's landmark lightens Ashes regret

Moeen Ali in the field during England's one-day series in New Zealand Getty Images

Moeen Ali probably had the worst Ashes of any England player. His batting average sank and his bowling average soared. But he isn't one to dwell on disappointments for too long, especially as he prepares for the significant milestone of his 50th Test.

He has only missed one Test since his debut in 2014 - against West Indies, in Antigua in 2015, when he had an abdominal injury - and at his best helped make England's lower order among the most feared in the world while manfully carrying the role of lead spinner (except for that odd period last year when the tag was given to Liam Dawson) even though it has never been his specialist discipline.

"I never ever thought I was going to play that many games," Moeen said. "When I got 25 I thought 50 seemed like a long way. It's been great to be part of the set-up and hopefully this week will be an amazing feeling for myself."

The fact he never got out of the starting blocks in the Ashes means he needs to recapture the form that made him such a match-changing force against South Africa last year when he was Man of the Series. He was set back in Australia by a side strain which limited his preparation then suffered a cut spinning finger due to the hard Kookaburra seam which never really healed. The end result was a bowling return of five wickets at 115.

To make matters worse, his batting slumped against his opposite number Nathan Lyon who removed him seven times in nine innings.

Since then he has regained bowling confidence in the one-day format, playing an important role in the series wins against Australia and New Zealand, but trying to get through ten overs as economically as possible is a very different challenge to teasing out batsmen in a Test match with the pink or red ball

"I think the Ashes was quite tough for me and the one-dayers came at a good time and I feel like my confidence is slowly getting back," he said.

"Obviously you lose your confidence from such a bad tour as a team, not just as an individual. I'm sure there's quite a lot of the guys want to put that right but in terms of confidence you play so much cricket now that you've got to get back on that horse and try your best and almost forget about the bad days if you can."

The finger is not causing Moeen a problem anymore - he supplemented his one-day workload with more than 40 overs on England's two bowling days in Hamilton - although does now have a sore shoulder which he picked up in the second ODI at Mount Maunganui. It is causing him a few problems throwing but his bowling is unaffected.

Quite where his batting sits after the Ashes problems is a little harder to deduce given his limited opportunities to build an innings in the ODIs. It is also not yet entirely clear where he will be in the order for Auckland. If Ben Stokes is available as a fully-fledged allrounder, Moeen could be back down to No. 8 with Chris Woakes at No. 9, but if Stokes' workload has to be restricted he will likely bat No. 5 which would to allow an extra bowler and Moeen would slot in at No. 7.

"I hope he's bowling. The balance of the team is pretty much sorted when he's in," Moeen said of Stokes. "Knowing we've got a much stronger side when he's playing, it gives everyone else a good lift, and obviously him being at slip for me, he's very good in that position. And he's great to have just to talk to about bowling. When I'm bowling he gives me quite a lot of advice. I'm sure he's ready to go and ready to perform and give back to the team, which I'm sure he wants to do for what happened earlier."

Stokes will be put through his paces in Auckland on Monday, his first serious bowl since the one-day series and having an injection in his back last week. He was moving freely with the bat during his 27 in Hamilton and then returned for extra centre-wicket practice after the match had finished. For different reasons, this series is a fresh start for two of England's allrounders.