While the rest of the world is watching, one player who has managed to stand out in a tough series against the South Africans was undoubtedly Moeen Ali. The English all-rounder was monumental in his effort to curb the opposition and managed to pick up plenty of wickets whilst scoring runs for fun. Ali comes from a school of discipline and hard-work and is a role model for plenty of aspiring players to look up to.
Moeen Ali was born to parents of Pakistani descent while his grandmother was British. He rose through the ranks at the domestic level, putting in performances consistently that allowed him to make his England debut.
Moeen Ali got his first professional county cricket contract at the age of just 15 and represented Warwickshire back in 2004. His splendid performances with the bat helped them win a lot of games. He was selected for the Under-19 squad and captained them but would just not get the breakthrough in the international circuit.
After a move to Worcestershire, he thought he would receive a call up from the England board to play internationally. Again, he was overlooked and still did not lose heart, going on to play domestic cricket at Bangladesh on the advice of Shakib Al Hasan, a teammate at the county.
At the end of the 2012 season, Ali scored 5 half-centuries in a row including a 62 for the England Lions gainst Australia’s touring squad. Many called for him to be included in the national team and the chance finally came in 2014 at the T20 World Cup.
Before the World T20, he featured in a series against the West Indies, where he picked up his maiden wicket and also his first fifty, ultimately culminating in 109 runs and 3 wickets in the three match series.
Moeen Ali slowly started showing his class in international cricket after being picked for the Test squad. He scored centuries against the Sri Lankans and picked up crucial wickets as England steamrollered India in the series. Ali was building his reputation as an excellent all-rounder with a pedigree.
His biggest performance came in the 2017 series versus the South Africans where he decimated the opposition. At the end, Moeen Ali stood with 250 runs and 25 wickets – The first man in history to do so in a 4 match series and also became only the first man since Ian Botham to hit a half century and pick 10 wickets in the same match.
Despite all his talent, Ali remains grounded as ever. He is a devout Muslim who with a very calm and collected demeanour. In his interviews, he comes across as really insightful and has established himself as a leader in the squad.
When it comes to celebrations, Moeen Ali tends to keep it toned down and walks away if there is champagne or any other alcohol bought out.
At the end of the day, Ali deserves respect from all quarters because of the kind of career he has made for himself and how he carries England’s legacy to greater heights.
By Rohit Nair