Moeen Ali has intensified the focus on Australian player behaviour after claiming that an unnamed member of their 2015 Ashes team subjected him to a racial taunt during his first appearance against them.
Writing in his autobiography, which is being serialised in The Times ahead of the book’s publication later this month, Moeen claims he was abused during the first Ashes Test at Cardiff in 2015, a performance in which he made 77 in the first innings before taking five wickets in a 169-run England victory.
“It was a great first Ashes Test in terms of my personal performance,” Moeen writes in the book. “However there was one incident which had distracted me. An Australian player had 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.
“I told a couple of the guys what the player had said to me and I think Trevor Bayliss [the England coach] must have raised it with Darren Lehmann, the Australians’ coach.
“Lehmann asked the player, ‘Did you call Moeen Osama?’ He denied it, saying, ‘No, I said, ‘Take that, you part-timer.” I must say I was amused when I heard that, obviously I had to take the player’s word for it, though for the rest of the match I was angry.”
Moeen added that he had brought the incident up at the end of England’s 3-2 series win, but once again, the “Osama” slur was denied by the player in question, who then added that some of his best friends were Muslim.
Moeen, who was born in Birmingham to a Pakistani father and an English mother, spoke earlier this year about the racial abuse he had suffered at the hands of Australia’s spectators during the last Ashes series Down Under, with one person asking him when his kebab shop was opening.
At the time he played down the incidents, but the anger is apparent in his book. “Guys were sticking their fingers up at me,” he writes. “I expected Australia to be quite rough, but not as bad as this. I hadn’t heard such comments for a long time. I got some of this abuse even in the practice games.”
In an interview in The Times on Friday, Moeen had gone into greater detail about his treatment on the Ashes tour, from the players in the middle as well as those watching from the stands
“Everyone you speak to . . . they are the only team I’ve played against my whole life that I’ve actually disliked,” Moeen told Mike Atherton. “Not because it’s Australia and they are the old enemy but because of the way they carry on and [their] disrespect of people and players.”
“The first game I played against them, in Sydney just before the 2015 World Cup, they were not just going hard at you, they were almost abusing you. That was the first time it hit me. I gave them the benefit of the doubt but the more I played against them they were just as bad, the Ashes here [in 2015] they were worse actually. Not intimidating, just rude. Individually they are fine and the Aussies we’ve had at Worcester have been fantastic, lovely guys.”
Australian cricket has since been left stunned by the tall-tampering scandal in Cape Town in March, which led to bans for three of their players, including the captain and vice-captain, Steve Smith and David Warner. A culture review has been commissioned by Cricket Australia to look into their player behaviour, but Moeen feels that the team got what was coming to it.
“I’m someone who generally feels sorry for people when things go wrong but it’s difficult to feel sorry for them. This ODI series they were very good actually; they’d been…humbled.”