Moeen, 34, retired from Tests last summer, after claiming 195 wickets in 64 matches, in addition to 2914 runs at 28.29, with five centuries. He remains an integral member of the white-ball set-up, having been a member of the victorious 2019 World Cup squad, and was England’s stand-in captain in their most recent series in the Caribbean.
However, speaking to The Guardian and PA Media, Moeen acknowledged that his honour is a reflection of his role-model status among the British Asian community that remains under-represented in the national team, having himself risen from community cricket in Sparkhill Park in Birmingham to more than 200 appearances for his country across formats.
“It is obviously an honour and the more you think about it, the more you realise how nice it is and how rewarding it is,” Moeen said. “More than anything, I know it makes my parents happy and that’s the most important thing – one of the main reasons for accepting. It’s amazing and my family are really proud and happy.
“I think it’s more about the journey I’ve been on, my background, my upbringing and all that,” he added. “Maybe the way I played a little bit and the way I go about my cricket, maybe that’s what people have liked or whatever.
“From the word go, as soon as I played for England, people labelled me as being a potential role model. It is a big responsibility because you don’t want to let people down. But then as time has gone on, you kind of accept it and deal with it a lot better. You kind of do inspire a lot of people, especially from the inner city.”
Moeen’s career owes a huge amount to the drive of his father Munir, who also helped to mould his cousin Kabir Ali into an England cricketer, and the love and support of his mother, Maqsood. And he said he was happy to be a “medal on their chest”.
“I know if it wasn’t for them, that there’s no way any of us would have made it in any sort of cricketing capacity or had the strength to carry on at times. They made a huge effort and sacrificed their own lives in certain ways for us to make it.”
Although for the moment Moeen remains an ex-Test cricketer, he admitted he was intrigued by the appointment of McCullum as England’s new head coach, in particular his stated determination to free up the players to perform with the same sense of liberation that many of them have frequently shown in white-ball cricket – including, in Moeen’s case, the IPL.
“Baz [McCullum] messaged me asking if I was ‘in’,” he said. “I have played with him in the Indian Premier League and really enjoyed the way he works. We spoke and he mentioned potentially, in the future, if there is a tour – or whenever, really – would I be available? I said ‘call me at the time’. We’ll see.
“The door is open. But I don’t want to disrespect [current England spinner] Jack Leach. It’s a difficult job – especially in England – and I know that I back him, I’m right behind him. I don’t want to put any pressure there, he’s a fantastic bowler.
“I saw the suggestion of me not enjoying Joe Root’s captaincy but I did, he was always good to me. He’s a friend of mine and a great guy. When I retired I was finding it hard to get going. I had a few niggles, I was tired, I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I should.
“But playing for England is amazing, especially at home. And even though it’s sad Chris Silverwood went as head coach and Root stepped down as captain, it’s always exciting when there is a new chapter. Brendon is a straight, honest guy, we’ve had a chat and maybe in the future, potential tours or whatever, who knows?”