A British-Pakistani all-rounder who tormented the Sri Lankans and Indians during the English cricketing summer and who was subjected to abuse by some Indian fans last night won the top award at the inaugural Asian Cricket Awards in London.
Birmingham-born Moeen Ali was named Player of the Year at the event at Lord's, beating out fellow England international Ravi Bopara, Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid and Warwickshire captain Varun Chopra for the signature award.
The honour capped a fabulous summer for the 27-year-old Worcestershire cricketer who played one of the finest ever Test innings when he held off Sri Lanka's victory charge at Headingly in June only for a miraculous draw to be snatched away off the penultimate delivery of the match when non-striker James Anderson was caught out.
Later on in the summer he troubled India's much-vaunted batting line up with his seemingly innocuous off-spin and was booed and abused by Indian fans during several One Day International matches.
He also made headlines for wearing a wristband in support of Palestinians during Israel's bloody Gaza offensive in July.
After being presented with the award by another high-profile British-Pakistani, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Ali became emotional and dabbed at his eyes as he recalled his first summer in England colours.
"I’m very happy and very proud. It’s a great achievement to be the first person to win this award. It has been one of those seasons where I took every day as it came. I didn’t get too excited or too down. I just enjoyed every single minute of it.
"I always feel I can do better. This was my first full season in international cricket and it is a stepping-stone. Hopefully I can go from strength to strength."
Ali said walking out at Lord's on Test debut against Sri Lanka had been a personal highlight of the summer.
"I wasn’t that nervous, my dad was more nervous than I was, I just enjoyed every bit of it."
Other notable winners on the night included Middlesex left-armer Ravi Patel, who won Young Player of the Year; former England all-rounder Isa Guha, who won Media Personality of the Year and Sky Sports commentator Nasser Hussain, who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Full List of winners:
Grassroots Cricket Award - Gopi Raj, founder, England Tamil Cricket League
Amateur Player of the Year - Simran Panesar, Warwickshire U-19's
Professional Young Player of the Year - Ravi Patel, Middlesex
Woman in Cricket - Salma Bi, Worcestershire
Coach of the Year - Qasim Ali, Lancashire South Asian Talent Saerch/England Physical Disability Squad)
Media Personality - Isa Guha
Behind The Scenes Award - Amjad Aziz, Vice Chairman, Birmingham Cricket League
Asian Cricket Club of the Year - London Tigers
Inspiration - Naz Khan, Chairman, Attock CC
The Founders – Lifetime Achievement Award - Nasser Hussain OBE
The Founders Special Recognition Award - Wasim Khan MBE
Professional Player of the Year - Moeen Ali
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