Having already demonstrated his ability at the highest level for England, Moeen Ali’s class has now also come through after his dealings with abuse during the T20 against India.
Ali’s rise to the top has been remarkable. While numerous County Championship players have come in and out of the side in the last year or so, he has simply entered and never left.
The consummate professional
In a year where cricket has endured numerous feuds, where more than a couple of high-profile players have demonstrated a lack of sportsmanship, he has set an example throughout the game.
England have undoubtedly had a summer of ups and downs, but he has ended it with a newly-awarded central contract. Since being released from England duty, he also helped Worcestershire in sealing promotion to Division One with a 27-run victory over Surrey at Grace Road.
Even while the fallout from his abuse in the T20 rumbles on off the field, he has managed to remain impressively above it all, as was the case when he was investigated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for wearing a ‘Free Gaza’ wristband.
“I wasn’t too fussed," he told the BBC, on his reception in the last two games. “It didn’t affect me one bit. I kind of expected it a bit.”
The police are still looking into the incidents at Edgbaston, where India’s fans were heard booing the spinner. His father, Munir Ali, was the first to suggest that his son was targeted because of the family’s Pakistani roots.
Initially, it was thought possible that the 27-year-old was simply unpopular with the Birmingham-based crowd for choosing to leave Warwickshire for Worcestershire.
Meanwhile, Angus Porter, head of the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), apologised to Moeen after his initial remarks about the abuse were taken out of context.
Porter later retracted his remarks, saying: “I made a mistake by suggesting racism does not matter. I do condemn it unreservedly.”
At the tail-end of last week, Ali used his status as a public figure to discourage fellow British Muslims from joining Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.
Considering the difficulties he has had to overcome in cementing his place in the England side, he is perhaps the most deserving of all the six players to be given new central contracts. He has almost certainly earned a place at next year’s World Cup, and can also look forward to an Ashes winter in 2015.
With Graeme Swann at the climax of his career last time round, England will be grateful to have a spinner at the top of his game for the next contest Down Under. Indeed, Ali could well be rewarded for his meteoric rise with a place in history as the difference for England as they seek to regain the urn.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms