England all-rounder Moeen Ali has insisted his recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List is about far more than “runs and wickets”. When sportsmen or women are named in one of the British and Commonwealth honours lists presided over by Queen Elizabeth II, who is celebrating her Platinum Jubilee this week, it is usually largely in recognition of a successful on-field career. And while the 34-year-old Moeen, who on Wednesday was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), has made 225 appearances for England in all formats during a 16-year professional career, the dashing Worcestershire batsman and off-spinner has also been a trailblazer for the Asian community in Britain.
A Birmingham-born cricketer of Pakistani heritage, Moeen has rarely been shy of proclaiming his Muslim faith in a sport that has faced repeated allegations of discrimination.
And while Moeen’s cricket achievements include a Test hat-trick and a World Cup winner’s medal, he said the OBE was a proud moment for his father Munir and mother Maqsood as well.
“It’s an honour to be recognised, it’s amazing and my family are really proud and happy,” said Moeen. “More than anything, I know it makes my parents happy.
“It’s not about runs and wickets. I think it’s more about the journey I’ve been through and all that kind of stuff, I guess. It’s my background, my upbringing and all that. All those kinds of things I’ve been through throughout my life.”
But Moeen, for whom the OBE was “almost the icing on the cake”, has not always been comfortable with being viewed as an ambassador for Britain’s Asian population.
“From the word ‘go’, as soon as I played for England, people labelled me as being a potential role model or role model,” he said. “It is a big responsibility…But as time has gone on, you kind of accept it and deal with it a lot better.”
Moeen, who retired from Test cricket in September, added: “You have to accept it and realise you are probably a role model even though you don’t like saying it too much.
“You do inspire a lot of people, especially from the inner city and the people that can relate to you.
“I don’t like that term role model, to a certain extent, but I know my role and what I need to do.”
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