His courageous and silken century in an ultimately losing cause against Sri Lanka was one of the highlights of the cricketing summer and Moeen Ali has been duly rewarded with a nomination for ‘Player of the Year’ at the first ever Asian Cricket Awards.
Ali, 27, scored 108 during a chanceless six-and-a-half hours at Headingley in June which took England to the brink of an improbable escape, only for Sri Lanka to snatch victory off the penultimate ball of the second Test match.
It was to be the beginning of a fruitful summer for the Birmingham-born son of British Pakistani immigrants as he continued to perform with the bat and irritate India’s much-hyped batting line up with his seemingly innocuous-looking off-spin.
Ali’s England T20 teammate Ravi Bopara – another batsman renowned for his easy stroke making – is also on the shortlist for ‘Player of the Year’ alongside young Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid and Warwickshire batsman Varun Chopra.
All eyes however will doubtless be on Ali who has had to overcome some difficult moments this summer.
He was criticized for wearing a ‘Free Palestine’ wristband as the conflict in Gaza raged on and he was booed by some Indian fans during two limited overs games in Edgbaston.
Ali acknowledged then that the boos were probably due to his Pakistani heritage.
The all-rounder has emerged unscathed from a summer of ups and downs, winning a coveted central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board as well as a number of awards.
Other award categories at this year’s Asian Cricket Awards – to be held 7 October at Lord’s – include the Media Award, in which former England women’s team star Isa Guha has been shortlisted, as well as Young Player of the Year, the Grassroots Award, Amateur Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and British Asian Team of the Year.
Awards co-founder Baljit Rihal said the event aims to raise awareness of the contribution of British Asians to English cricket.
“To host the inaugural Talk Home Mobile Asian Cricket Awards at Lord’s is an absolute honour.
“I can see no better setting to celebrate the achievements of British Asians in the game. The support we have received from The England and Wales Cricket Board and The Club Cricket Conference in putting together this event has been tremendous – it’s a real statement of intent from the cricket authorities to show their commitment to the British Asian community.
“Our hope is that the awards will become a momentous event in the awareness and development of British Asians in the game. The event will be a great opportunity to bring together decision makers and people who we expect to make an impact in cricket.
“We have worked extremely hard to introduce an event that is the first of its kind in the UK. Our philosophy is to promote cohesion amongst the Asian cricket community whilst also celebrating the diversity of our country.”
The judging panel for the awards include such cricket luminaries as England batting legend Mike Gatting; former president of the MCC John Barclay; former England international Min Patel and distinguished cricket journalist Scyld Berry.
For more information, visit www.asiancricketawards.co.uk