England all-rounder Moeen Ali has criticised the “rude” approach of several Australia teams he has played against, saying their “disrespect” for opponents makes them the only side he has “disliked” while also alleging that he was referred to as ‘Osama’ by one of the Aussie cricketers during the 2015 Ashes.
The off-spinner and left-handed batsman first came up against the infamously aggressive Australians in 2015 before his struggles with both bat and ball played a key role in England’s 4-0 Ashes defeat ‘Down Under’ in 2017/18, which led to him being dropped.
And now, in his upcoming autobiography, Moeen, the 31-year-old talks about an alleged racial abuse in the first Test at Cardiff in 2015. England won that match by 169 runs, with Moeen scoring 77 in the first innings and taking five wickets in the match.
“It was a great first Ashes Test in terms of my personal performance,” The Telegraph quoted a part from his 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.”
Later, the incident seemed to have reached Australia coach Darren Lehmann, to whom the player said it was ‘Take that, part-timer’. Ali said he reluctantly had to take the player’s word for it but was left red-faced by the incident.
“Everyone you speak to...they are the only team I’ve played against my whole life that I’ve actually disliked,” Ali also told Britain’s The Times newspaper in an interview.
“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,” added the 31-year-old, who is known as a mild-mannered character on and off the field.
“The first game I ever played against them, in Sydney, just before the 2015 World Cup, they were not just going hard at you, they were almost abusing you,” the Worcestershire stalwart explained.
“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 England 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.”
Ali, who starred in England’s recent 4-1 Test series win over India after being recalled to the side, had no sympathy for the banned Australian trio of former captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, all sent into international isolation for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March.
“I’m someone who generally feels sorry for people when things go wrong but it’s difficult to feel sorry for them,” he said.
The fall-out from the scandal prompted a major review by Cricket Australia into the conduct of their players, while Tim Paine took over as captain and Justin Langer replaced Darren Lehmann as coach after his fellow former Australia batsman resigned.
England whitewashed Australia 5-0 in a home one-day international series in June and Ali said he had detected an improvement in their conduct.
“This ODI series they were very good actually,” he added.
Reflecting on his struggles on the last Ashes tour, Moeen admitted: “I found it very difficult in Australia to switch off.
“It was my first Ashes tour and I was desperate to do well and was really looking forward to it.
“I worked so hard on the short ball before the series began, maybe too hard.
“Then (Nathan) Lyon kept getting me out. I found that very hard to deal with. I never thought that I was a poor player of spin but I really struggled against him.
“I wasn’t getting any wickets either. Things just got tougher and tougher.”
(With AFP Inputs)