Back to his roots: Moeen Ali likely to be England captain for Pakistan tour

Decades after his grandfather left Mirpur in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for United Kingdom, Moeen Ali is set to lead the England national team on their first visit to Pakistan in 17 years for a seven-match T20I series.

As per reports from The Guardian, the 35-year-old who has been full-time captain Jos Buttler’s chief deputy post Eoin Morgan’s retirement has been tipped off as the number one captaincy candidate for the tour with Buttler out injured and Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow likely to be rested.

The series in Pakistan will be a first for the England men’s team since 2005 as the subsequent contests between the two were hosted by the Pakistan Cricket Board in United Arab Emirates.

It was his discussion with head coach Brendon McCullum earlier this summer about the Pakistan Test tour in December that had made Moeen rethink his decision of retiring from Test cricket last year.

“I spoke to McCullum this morning, and we did discuss Pakistan this winter. The door is always open, and yeah, I suppose I am officially unretired,” he had said.

A visit to the country as the England captain for a T20I series as long as seven games ahead of a T20 World Cup is an even sweeter prospect for Moeen, whose rise to the top of English cricket has been anything but easy.

“My journey in sustaining my sons’ love for the game hasn’t been easy,” Moeen’s father, Munir Ali had told the Indian Express back in 2021. “There have been days when I had just 10 pounds in my pocket and had to spend 9 of it on petrol so that I can take my sons around for games. With the remaining one pound, I would buy bread for the family. My brother also threw everything into the dream. It needs sacrifices from the family to prop up dreams for the little ones.”

“I remember sitting at the ground at Worcester years ago when Moeen walked out to bat. A loud voice shouted, “shave off the beard!”. I had already been hearing some murmurs in the cricketing world about Moeen’s faith. “Even some coaches. They would gently tell you, “look, this is England, think about that beard”. I was worried and went to Moeen, who told me in a clear voice that this was him. That he wasn’t going to bother about the criticism.”

Known as a man of faith and firm in his belief of his religion, Munir told how Moeen faced hurdles early in his career owing to his faith, and how he was able to overcome them because of his faith.

“Once on a developmental tour to India, a coach, who will go unnamed, told him to trim the beard,” he said.

“Moeen told him, “I will leave cricket today but will not leave my belief, and this is my belief. If I play, I will play with what I am. He didn’t play a single match there, I think, and when they asked him at the end of the tour about his learnings, he said, “nothing, just net practice, I could have done it in England.” Everyone else played but he wasn’t played, and he knew it was because of beard.”

Munir further added, “I was worried about his immediate future, but he piled on the performances in county cricket and progressed. That’s the kind of strong character he is. He will shrug this off as well but that doesn’t mean anyone can take a pop at him like this. England cricket has changed for good over the years and everyone loves and respects Moeen.”


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