Moeen's father on how his son stands out in a cricketing family

Even though Munir Ali has never played top level cricket, the sport runs in the family and Munir reveals that Moeen Ali’s calmness makes him stand out.

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Moeen Ali is presented with his 100th cap by captain Eoin Morgan ahead of the World Cup match between England and Sri Lanka.   -  Getty Images

The last few days have been busy for Munir Ali. Caught up in the cacophony of paint cans and contractors as he remodelled his Birmingham home, the fact that his son Moeen Ali achieved a career milestone on Friday slipped his mind.

“Oh, it’s his 100th ODI, is it?” the sexagenarian asked as Moeen took the field against Sri Lanka in a World Cup fixture on Friday.

“It completely skipped my mind,” he said. “We could not be present at Headingley for his special match, but I am so happy for him. What a journey it has been.”

READ | Moeen Ali: Means a lot to play 100th ODI for England

When Moeen broke into the national team five years ago, Munir did not imagine that his son will be able to hang on for so long.

“When he started playing cricket, a lot of British Asians came in and out of the England team and only a very few of them stayed in the team. I thought, maybe, he will come in, do well and then be on and off the team,” he said.

“But he went on to be a regular member for the last five years. That shows the dedication and hard work put in by him. I did not even imagine he will play 100 ODIs.”

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Moeen Ali and Munir Ali at the Cricket Centre in Edgbaston.   -  Special Arrangement

 

While he is happy with the way Moeen has fared so far, Munir’s only regret has been the fact that England has not utilised his batting skills well.

“He is not being given a fixed batting spot. I still feel he is a better batsman than a spinner. But now people say he has become a bowler who can bat,” he said, adding, “He has batted up the order in Tests and has scored runs, so they should give him more opportunities up the order.”

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Even though Munir has never played top level cricket, the sport runs in the family. Apart from Moeen, two of his other sons — Kadeer and Omar — are county cricketers. Nephew Kabir played one Test match for England, while another nephew, Aatif, also plays county cricket.

Having seen so many cricketers in the family, Munir reveals that Moeen’s calmness makes him stand out.

“That has been the key to his success. He does not allow his emotions to affect the game. Even when he is at home, he travels to Edgbaston and plays with his brothers. He is always thinking about the game,” Munir said. For Moeen, ‘there is no fear of failing’, he said.

“A bad game doesn’t worry him. If it’s a bad game, it is a bad game. He looks forward to the good day. He doesn’t lose his sleep if he struggles on the field on a particular day…”

Moeen’s cousin Kabir, too, agrees with the view. “He just enjoys the game. He does not complicate anything. He is always learning and is always thinking about the game. This happens when you enjoy what you are doing. He doesn’t take cricket too seriously. He knows it’s a game, and he gets paid for it. All the players who are there at the top level are genuine students of the game and they enjoy what they do.”

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That, indeed, has worked for 32-year-old Moeen.

But on his son's special day, Munir also remembers those days when he had asked a young Moeen for ‘two years of his life’.

“He always had the talent. It was about being successful at the highest level. When he was 13 years old, I told him, ‘you give me two years of your life and I will give you the rest of your life’. He didn’t understand then, but the next two years saw him not going out with friends, no socialising. The entire focus was on cricket.”

In two years' time, he got a youth county contract at Warwickshire, but later moved to Worcestershire to expand his horizons.

Clearly, there hasn’t been any looking back since.