Moeen Ali was pleased to claim bragging rights in the England dressing room, setting a new record with his country’s fastest ever fifty in Twenty20 cricket.
Moeen brought up his half-century in just 16 balls in the Vitality Series opener against South Africa, a 41-run home win, beating team-mate Liam Livingstone’s year-old record by a single delivery.
The all-rounder smashed six sixes and two fours in his brief but thrilling knock, sharing a match-winning stand of 106 with Jonny Bairstow, who made a career-best 90.
After losing both white-ball series against India and drawing the ODI leg against the Proteas, the most important thing for England was the result but Moeen was happy to toast his personal achievement too.
He made the most of the modest dimensions at Bristol’s Seat Unique Stadium, which played host to 29 sixes in 40 overs, as England safely defended 234 for six.
“It means a lot, there are guys in our changing room who score quickly and now I can brag about fastest 50 in T20 cricket for England. I’ll go in the dressing room and give it big ones,” he said with tongue in cheek.
“It’s something great to be proud of, but I’m sure it will be broken soon. This was a nice-sized ground for someone like myself, who isn’t the most massive hitter of a ball like some of the boys.
“You can hit sixes here, you pick the bowlers you fancy and go after them. I just had a look at a couple of balls then played my shots.”
Moeen was keen to share the plaudits too, hailing Bairstow for his latest exemplary effort in a summer filled with memorable performances from the Yorkshireman and praising Chris Jordan’s death bowling.
“Jonny is someone I’ve always enjoyed batting with, he’s quite busy, strong, powerful and the way he batted tonight was very entertaining. It was great to be at the other end,” he said of Bairstow.
Jordan, meanwhile, showed a calm head to concede a meagre eight runs combined from the 18th and 20th overs to turn a potentially close finish into a breeze.
“CJ closed the game out for us,” said Moeen.
“He’s a very, very important player and has experience all around the world. He’s had a couple of difficult years in the role he’s been given but this summer he has been fantastic. We know how good he is, his pace is up and he’s a fantastic death bowler.”
Proteas seamer Lungi Ngidi, who came out on the losing end despite collecting standout figures of five for 39, insisted his side always believed they had a chance. And 21-year-old Tristan Stubbs gave them a sniff with a 28-ball 72 in his first ever international innings.
“We definitely thought we could chase it down. Anything was chaseable in the last five but we lost too many wickets,” he said.
“We had full faith in Stubbs, he’s shown us what he is capable of in training. I’ve bowled to him myself and been on the receiving end of what we saw tonight.”