England news September 4, 2014

Moeen calls for greater home support

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Moeen not affected by crowd reaction

Moeen Ali has once again proved himself to be a fearless advocate of Britain's maturity as a multicultural nation by telling the British Indians who booed him at Edgbaston that he looks forward to the day when they all support England.

Moeen was persistently booed during the fourth ODI in Birmingham, the city of his birth, as some Indian supporters, most of them also British born, picked him out for special abuse in deference to traditional Indo-Pak rivalry.

"I just go out and block it out and try and play as best as I can," he said. "It's fine, it just goes straight over my head. I think it's maybe because my background is from Pakistan but it doesn't bother me."

Moeen, a practising Muslim, and instantly recognisable by the long beard that he proudly presents as a label of his faith, has previously expressed the belief that British-born Asians should support England.

He said at Headingley ahead of the final Royal London ODI that it was especially odd to hear Birmingham voices cheering on India. "Definitely - and they've got a Brummy accent or whatever and some of the chants are English chants. But it's just the way it is. Hopefully over time we can change that.

"I spoke to a lot of people and there were a lot of Asians there who were supporting England as well. But, obviously, the majority were supporting India."

Moeen was warned by the ICC in July after taking the field against India during the third Test at the Ageas Bowl wearing "Save Gaza" and "Free Palestine" wristbands. ICC rules state players should not wear messages relating to "political, religious or racial activities".

His evident pride in wearing the Three Lions of England promises to make him into a cult figure among England cricket supporters during a summer in which he has impressed with both bat and ball. He has shown it is possible to be both a devoutly practising Muslim and a ‎proud England cricketer and British citizen. Such are the tensions of multiculturalism in Britain, however, he never expected it to be an easy ride.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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