by Sam Blackledge
Former England seamer Kabir Ali says his cousin Moeen is proving the doubters wrong – and believes their family could continue producing international stars for years to come.
The 35-year-old, who retired from first-class cricket last year due to injury, watched on proudly as Moeen scored his third Test century against Pakistan at The Oval.
Kabir says it was a “brilliant” innings – and insists Moeen is ready for a promotion to strengthen England’s brittle middle order.
“Obviously we’ve known him since he was a baby, he’s always been talented and gifted,” Kabir says.
“We knew he would play for England at some point, it was just a matter of time.
“He is batting well at seven but maybe if they push him up the order he will go on to bigger and better things.
“He bats at one down for Worcestershire, there’s no reason why he can’t bat up at number three, four or five for England.
“If you look back to the Sri Lanka series (when Moeen scored an unbeaten 155* at Durham) he batted all day, that just shows he’s mentally strong enough.
“He’s proved quite a few people wrong. They are always pointing fingers at him but he’s done very well.”
Moeen struggled with ball in hand against Pakistan, picking up 11 wickets at an average of 46.
Kabir believes the visitors went hard against his off-spin because they saw him as a threat.
“He is definitely a batsman-cum-bowler, without a doubt, but he has bowled well against Australia and India,” he says.
“As soon as he came on they saw him as someone they could look to target and attack.
“When there was a bit of pressure on them to play with a straight bat he picked up a few wickets, he looked quite dangerous.
“I think that’s why they target him quite hard. If they played more proper cricket shots he would have done well.
“They just picked on him a bit. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad bowler.”
Moeen’s success may prompt Kabir to reflect on his own brief England career – but he says he has no regrets.
“I try not to look back too far,” he says. “I am very proud that I got to play a Test and 14 ODIs.
“I got a five-for in an ODI, maybe I should have played more. That’s history now, but nobody can take that one Test away from me.
“I am very proud, and now that Moeen has gone on to play more I am just happy.”
Along with Moeen’s brother Kadeer, who played more than 100 first-class matches for three counties, the Birmingham-based family have created a cricketing dynasty – and Kabir says there is more to come.
“We are looking after the youngsters now, they are the future,” he says.
“We have got quite a few family members coming through in the under-12s and under-13s, nephews and cousins.
“Me and Kadeer and Moeen have all got kids now, all of a similar age, so I am sure at some point they will pick up a bat and ball.
“You never know what can happen in the future. If they keep working hard you could see more Alis wearing the three lions.”