• England 3 min read

    Moeen Ali proud of journey from inner-city Birmingham to England stardom

    England star Moeen Ali on sharing kit, playing in the park and the financial struggles on his way to the top

    At his local park, in Sparkhill, Birmingham, England cricketer Moeen Ali takes a moment to reflect on the journey which has taken him from inner-city to worldwide cricketing stardom.

    “This park is where it all started," he says. "It doesn’t feel real. You are here one day and then next minute you’re playing in front of thousands of people.

    “I feel so fortunate. I still can’t believe I play for England regularly. I feel very lucky.”

    Moeen’s family and especially his father played a key part of his love for cricket, taking him to games, helping to train his son as well as his brothers in an area that has produced an incredible 16 professional players within a three-mile radius since 1990.

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    Mo credits his father for making it as a professional as well as keeping him on track during his teenage years, “My dad said to me every day you are going to train. ‘Give me two years of your life (from 13-15) and you can do whatever you want after that’.

    “At the time when we were struggling financially, my dad somehow would take time out so I had to make sure I fulfilled those two years. That was the best thing my dad ever did for me and I’m forever grateful for that.

    “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.”

    "A lot of the guys I played with couldn’t afford bats, pads and stuff. We always used to share."

    Moeen Ali

    Moeen also saw first-hand the many challenges potential cricketers in inner-city areas face with kit, green space and support hard to come by, “A lot of the guys I played with couldn’t afford bats, pads and stuff. We always used to share.”

    Despite the challenges, he says it brought a sense of togetherness between him and his team mates, “When I got out I’d give my pads to the next guy going in. Those are the memories that you cherish forever and look back and think how good they were.”

    As the ECB launched its South Asian Action Plan, Moeen has no doubt that cricket in Sparkhill helped bring communities together and showed the positive impact sport can have.

    “You learn to get on with everyone. When you’re a child you don’t really care and to be honest with you, nobody should ever care what colour somebody is or what religion someone is. At the end of the day we are all human beings.”

    Playing for his country remains the pinnacle for Moeen and something he is rightly proud of, “For me to have played for England is an incredible achievement, for myself and for my family. I love it when my parents come to watch me play. They’ve all had to go through a lot more than me. I feel like I’m repaying them.

    “My dad can be happy and keep his head up high and say that my son plays for England. That means everything to me.”

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