WORCESTERSHIRE head coach Kevin Sharp has paid tribute to Moeen Ali who is in line to win his 50th Test cap this week in the opening match of the series in New Zealand.

Moeen made his Test debut almost four years ago against Sri Lanka at Lord’s in June 2014 in a proud day for the County and the all-rounder.

He has not looked back and played in every Test since then except the one he missed through injury.

That was the first Test against the West Indies in the Caribbean in April 2015 after he suffered a suspected side strain during the World Cup and was replaced by James Tredwell.

But Moeen proved his fitness in Worcestershire’s opening County Championship game of that season against Yorkshire, returned to the side for the second Test and has since been an ever-present in moving on to 49 Tests.

The 30-year-old has scored 2,467 Test runs at an average of 32.89 with five hundreds and 12 half-centuries.

He has also picked up 133 wickets at an average of 40.24 with four five-wicket hauls including a career-best 6-53.

Sharp said: “Mo has made some fantastic contributions to that team. He is a flair player and a match-winner.

“He can turn a game just like that. It is quite clear what England see in him and all the best to him.

“We’ve got to be so proud of the fact that one of our own players is performing in that manner.

“It’s fantastic for him to get to 50 Tests and he is a good man. The lads love him here and when he comes back it’s great to see him.

“He is a good guy, great fun and a professional man. When he comes back he gives the lads a tonic. We wish him well.”

Moeen will look to bounce back from a challenging Ashes series.

The first Test starts on Thursday in Auckland with the second beginning on March 29 in Christchurch just two days after the completion of the first game.

Meanwhile, Worcestershire duo Joe Clarke and Brett D’Oliveira both made 40s for the North who went down by 63 runs in the opening match against the South in the best of three series at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.

Clarke opened the innings after the South had scored 347 all out on being put into bat and featured in a stand of 77 in 11 overs with Alex Davies although Sam Curran had them both dropped in his first two overs.

Dominic Bess eventually held onto a return catch to dismiss Clarke for 46 from 45 balls with six boundaries.

D’Oliveira came in at number seven at 171-5 and featured in a sixth-wicket stand of 89 in 9.4 overs with North captain Steven Mullaney.

He made 43 off 35 balls with three sixes before being yorked by Curran the delivery after striking the Surrey paceman over the ropes.

Director of England Cricket Andrew Strauss and selectors Angus Fraser and Mick Newell witnessed the efforts of Clarke and D’Oliveira as well as coaches Andy Flower, Paul Collingwood and Mark Ramprakash.

The North were bowled out for 284 with Mullaney top-scoring with 57.

Nick Gubbins led the way for the South with 116 from 99 balls but was dismissed by D’Oliveira who bowled six overs for 48 runs with 14 dot balls.

Gubbins and Daniel Bell-Drummond (52) laid the foundations for the South’s imposing total with an opening stand of 134 in 19 overs.

Delray Rawlins hit 53 off 41 balls but then the South lost their last six wickets for 32 runs with five clean bowled to Saqib Mahmood.

The second game of the series is at the same venue on Wednesday.