LONDON: Moeen Ali found himself making headlines on the field as well as off it after he led Worcestershire to the English T20 Blast title with victory over Sussex in the final at Edgbaston on Saturday.
A memorable finals day for the England all-rounder started with an allegation, contained in an extract from his autobiography published in Britain’s The Times newspaper, that he was called “Osama” by an Australia player during the 2015 Ashes series.
On the field, the Worcestershire captain scored 41 and took two for 16 with his off-spinners, including the wicket of England team-mate Jos Buttler, as his side beat Lancashire by 20 runs in the opening semi-final.
He then took three for 30 as Worcestershire held Sussex to a total of 157 for six in the final at Edgbaston — a target the Midlands side chased down with wicket-keeper Ben Cox making an unbeaten 46 and Moeen contributing 41 as they won by five wickets.
“I just knew we were going to win today,” said Moeen, whose side owed their place in the final to an impressive semi-final return of four for 21 from 20-year-old seamer Pat Brown.
“We were amazing. We won the crucial moments in the game.”
Earlier, Cricket Australia (CA) responded to Moeen’s damning comments by saying it was launching an investigation, saying the remark he’d allegedly heard was “unacceptable”.
Moeen, a 31-year-old practising Muslim, said he was on the receiving end of the slur, a reference to Osama bin Laden, from an unnamed opponent during his Ashes debut against Australia in Cardiff three years ago — a match where he scored 77 runs in the first innings and took five wickets.
Never been so angry
“It was a great first Ashes Test in terms of my personal performance, however, there was one incident which had distracted me,” wrote Moeen.
“An Australian player 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.”
A Cricket Australia spokesperson, quoted on the governing body’s website, said in response: “Remarks of this nature are unacceptable and have no place in our sport, or in society.
“We take this matter very seriously, and are following up with the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) as a matter of urgency to seek further clarification around the alleged incident.”
The ECB said it would not comment on the incident at this stage.
Moeen said the Australia player in question had denied making the comments to him at the time.
“I told a couple of the guys what the player had said to me and I think (England coach) Trevor Bayliss (who is himself Australian) must have raised it with Darren Lehmann, the Australians’ coach,” he said.
“Lehmann asked the player, ‘Did you call Moeen Osama?’ He denied it, saying, ‘No, I said, “Take that, you part-timer’.”
Australia are reviewing their team culture after former captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft were given lengthy bans by CA for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March.