Alistair Cook called England all-rounder Moeen Ali the fastest learner that he has ever played with. England's spinning sensation has gone from barely-used in his debut to take 19 wickets in the series against India.
So what exactly is it that Moeen has learnt?
Bowl at the right pace
"You need to up your pace at this level, lad!"
Ian Bell offered constructive feedback to his new team mate. He informed Ali that he needed to up his pace at International level in order to make things happen, to reduce the decision making time and pressurise opposition batters.
Since that feedback - ahead of the Southampton Test - Ali has been touching 55mph rather than flirting with 50mph which was his 'county pace'. At slower paces, Ali was being pulled from relatively good lengths. The likes of Jayawardene and Sangrakkara had more than enough time to rock back and hammer the ball over mid wicket.
Fast forward to August and the same length delivery is causing Dhoni and co all sorts of problems. Ali has adjusted his pace to survive and thrive in his new environment.
But that's not the only reason why he has developed so quickly.
Keep the revs, adjust the seam angle
I was encouraged by Ali in the Sri Lanka series. He had one of the most important elements of spin bowling: revolutions on the ball.
Moeen regularly bowled the ball with over 2200 rpm (far more than his opposite number, Rangana Herath) in that series, yet found it difficult to create any deception either through the air or off of the pitch. Ali's seam angle was very square to the pitch as it flew through the air. He bowled with pure side spin.
This meant that he was losing the ability to drift the ball in the air, dip the ball extravagantly on its curve to the batter and to get excessive bounce from the surface.
The combination of side spin and top spin is vital at the top level and Moeen needed to adjust something in his grip or wrist position at release to facilitate a more optimal seam angle. I mentioned this to Head Coach Peter Moores after the Sri Lanka Test Series. It's been great to see the results of some excellent interventions that the England Coaching staff have put in place.
The seam angle for Ali's stock ball is now on an axis that encourages increased top spin. His dismissal of Jadeja in the Old Trafford Test was a great example of those adjustments. Drift, dip, bounce and enough side spin to hit the shoulder of the bat and loop to slip.
Change your strategy, change your luck
Mushtaq Ahmad always says,
"If things aren't working for you, the first thing that should change is your field and strategy."
This is exactly what Ali, Cook and Moores have done. There is little change to left handed batters, he has just got more skilful. Yet to right handers, the introduction of a leg slip and the increase in pace has encouraged Ali to shift to a straighter line. Both edges come into play and any misjudgement of length threatens the stumps or pads.
I love a leg slip; and now so does Moeen Ali!
Can these 3 points spark similar accelerated learning in your spinners?