Moeen Ali: I want people to think Muslims are not all bad

As the Ashes gets underway all eyes will be on the “beard that’s feared” – Moeen Ali.

The 30-year-old will be a key player for England in Australia but no matter the result he’ll still be an icon among British Asians.

And the Muslim all-rounder from Birmingham says he wants to use his position to inspire people of all faiths.

“I want people to look at me and be like, ‘Muslims are not all bad people.'”

England's cricket squad

Image caption Moeen Ali (third in front row) and the England cricket team in India 2016

In a Newsbeat and Asian Network documentary, Moeen openly talks about life as a Muslim playing cricket for England at a time when his religion’s come under scrutiny.

The 30-year-old’s beliefs means you won’t see him engaging with alcohol – so spraying champagne after an England victory is a no-go.

“There’s so much negativity about it in people’s minds with the media etc.

“I’m hoping I can inspire people of different faiths to make them know that they don’t have to be afraid of practising whatever they want to.

“And to be a cricket player or sports player or whatever they want to be.”

Moeen Ali

Image caption Moeen Ali has played over 40 test matches for England

Moeen is among only a handful of British Asians to represent England at cricket’s top level.

In November 2016 he helped create history when he was selected in the Test side to face India in Rajkot.

Also in the squad were Adil Rashid, Haseeb Hameed and Zafar Ansari – making it the first time four British Asians had been selected in an English cricket starting line-up.

It was described as a “watershed” moment for English cricket. But a year on Moeen is the only one playing against Australia.

Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler and Steven Finn

Image caption Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler and Steven Finn celebrate winning the ashes at The Kia Oval in August 2015

Moeen’s story of his rise to the top is a rare one despite the number of Asians playing cricket in the England.

Figures suggest 40% of recreational cricket is played by British Asians but just 4% go on to play professionally.

“Between 13 and 15 my dad just said ‘Give me two years [of practising] everyday after school. After that you can do what you want.’

“I remember my dad would take me to games. He’d drive a taxi all night, come in at six and drive me to a game at nine.

“He sacrificed all his life for my cricket.”

Moeen Ali

The 30-year-old admitted that as he’s progressed further in his career, he’s met plenty of other British Asians who gave up on their dreams or were encouraged by parents to focus on their studies instead.

“When I was growing up I’d play against people and they’d be like ‘I can’t continue this I might look at work or education’.

“But to me that’s a cop out. I just thought if I work hard enough, get more runs and wickets then anybody else then I’ll make it.”

Watch England’s Muslim Cricket Stars on iPlayer now

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