Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Moeen: Winning Wisden Honour Is “huge For Me And My Family”

Moeen: Winning Wisden Honour Is “huge For Me And My Family”

Moeen Ali has hailed being named as one of Wisden's five Cricketers Of The Year as"one of my biggest awards" and is delighted to follow in the footsteps of legends such as Kumar Sangakkara – one of his major batting influences – and Sachin Tendulkar.

The Worcestershire and England all-rounder enjoyed a memorable 12 months after making his full international breakthrough last February during the tour of the West Indies.

The 27-year-old, who is also pictured on the front cover of Wisden, has become a regular member of the England side in all formats of the game.

He scored his maiden Test hundred against Sri Lanka at Headingley, filled the spinning role vacated by Graeme Swann in the series win over India, and scored ODI hundreds against Sri Lanka and then, in the World Cup, against Scotland.

Moeen also averaged over 60 with the bat in eight LV = County Championship appearances for Worcestershire and helped them gain promotion to Divison One.

Yorkshire batting duo Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth, Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Matthews and Warwickshire spinner Jeetan Patel were the other Cricketers Of The Year chosen by Wisden editor Lawrence Booth.

Moeen, in an exclusive interview, said: "I'm very, very happy. I see it as one of my biggest awards. It's a once in a lifetime award, and with the names I've seen who have won it and to be on the front cover, is huge for me and my family.

"It's been a great year, the best time cricketing-wise of my life. Just to be playing for England for a year, I'm very pleased.

"To get that award after one season is a great achievement.

"Every year I'd look to see who has won the Wisden honours. It's quite big. I know Richo (Alan Richardson) has got it and Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) and Hicky(Graeme Hick) from Worcestershire.

"Everyone looks and it's something you all want to be, just like you want to play international crcket.

"You want to be number one in the world as well at some stage so hopefully that's still to come but the Wisden Cricketers Of The Year is something we all look at.

"Lawrence Booth, the editor, told me. It is one of the big achievements of my career. I've got a few of the old copies at home. My dad used to collect them as well.

"I'm so happy. I know Kumar Sangakkara got it last year and he is one of the guys I really look up to in terms of my batting.

"I also know Sachin Tendulkar was on the cover of one before so to be behind those guys, it's a great achievement and my family is very happy."

Moeen reflected on the success of the last year and said: "Hopefully it can continue and I can be an international player for a long time.

"I always wanted to play for England. Once I did that, no-one could take away that I was a Test player, a 50 over player, a T20 player, but I want keep going and to keep playing and I feel like I'm improving a lot.

"I don't take it for granted. I approach every game like it's my first or my last. I appreciate the position I'm in and try and continue the best I can."

Moeen added: "What are the highlights? It was nice to get my first hundred at Headingley although we didn't quite save the game.

"My six-for (at the Ageas Bowl) and my four-for at Old Trafford against India, I was really pleased about because we won the games and I felt like I contributed to the team.

"Then just being around, opening the batting for my country in a World Cup, is a great achievement even though it wasn't a great World Cup."

Excellence in, or influence on, the previous English summer are the major criteria for inclusion as a Wisden Cricketer Of The Year. No-one can be chosen more than once.

Wisden reports: "England's search for a spin bowler to replace Graeme Swann was thought to be doomed until Moeen Ali lit up the summer with 12 wickets in the Southampton and Manchester Tests against India. He finished the series with 19 at 23 apiece.

"Earlier in the season he had almost saved the Headingley Test against Sri Lanka, batting for all bar one ball of the final day..

"And, when Moeen was promoted to open for the one-day side, he scored the third fastest 100 by an English batsman from 72 balls against Sri Lanka in Colombo."

Moeen will be presented with a specail leatherbound copy of the cricketing bible at the Wisden dinner in the Long Room at Lord's this evening.