England all-rounder Moeen Ali has claimed he suffered a racial taunt from an unnamed Australian player during the 2015 Ashes.
Birmingham-born Moeen, a Muslim who is of Pakistani and English heritage, had already spoken of the racist abuse he received from Australian supporters in last winter’s Ashes.
However, in his autobiography, Moeen, to be published later this month and which is being serialised by The Times, the 31-year-old admits to being targeted by an Australian player during the first Test at Cardiff in 2015, which England won by 169 runs, with Moeen scoring 77 in the first innings and taking five wickets in the match.
“It was a great first Ashes Test in terms of my personal performance,” he recalls in the book, “however there was one incident which had distracted me. An Australian player had turned to me on the field and said, ‘Take that, Osama.’ I could not believe what I had heard. I remember going really red. I have never been so angry on a cricket field.
“I told a couple of the guys what the player had said to me and I think Trevor Bayliss [the England coach] must have raised it with Darren Lehmann, the Australians’ coach.
“Lehmann asked the player, “Did you call Moeen Osama?” He denied it, saying, “No, I said, ‘Take that, you part-timer.’” I must say I was amused when I heard that, obviously I had to take the player’s word for it, though for the rest of the match I was angry.”
Moeen spoke to the player at the end of the series, which England won 3-2, and his opponent denied saying “Osama” and claimed that some of his best friends were Muslim.
Moeen claims he came in for further racial abuse last winter during the second Ashes Test in Adelaide while he was fielding, although it was from spectators, with one shouting ‘when is your kebab shop opening?’ At the time, Moeen dismissed the jeering as “nothing much” but in the autobiography his response is different.
“Guys were sticking their fingers up at me, he says.” I expected Australia to be quite rough, but not as bad as this. I hadn’t heard such comments for a long time. I got some of this abuse even in the practice games.”
Moeen struggled for form last winter but has been rejuvenated during the series victory over India this summer, sharing two crucial partnerships with Alastair Cook when batting at No 3 in the final Test against India at the Oval. Moeen, however, would prefer to bat lower down the order.
“I’d love to bat five if I had a choice. I got a couple of hundreds in India, one at five, one at four. I’d love to bat up there and be the second spinner,” Moeen said in a question-and-answer session with The Daily Telegraph, when launching his cricket legacy programme for young people in partnership with the Sport Legacy Foundation in Birmingham. On Saturday, Moeen will captain Worcestershire in the county’s first appearance at T20 finals day.
Moeen’s partnerships with Cook in his farewell Test were worth 73 and 35. Moeen noticed the freedom with which Cook batted during his 33rd and last Test century, 147, before comparing the captaincies of Cook and his successor Joe Root.
“In the first innings, I was certain he was going to get a hundred the way he was playing, so I felt if I can stay in it would be great to be with him, but obviously he got out [for 71],” Moeen said. “His thing was he didn’t want to get zero in either innings.
“The way he went about his training that week, it just shows when the pressure’s off how much you can perform. I thought he was excellent in both innings, he played like when he was in the form of his life. Once he got off the mark he was in the zone, and the mental side of things was just correct and his feet were moving like we haven’t seen probably for a couple of years.
Scyld Berry – The Telegraph