Ali to renew friendship with ex-team-mate McGrath

Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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London:England One day specialist pace bowler Kabir Ali said he was hoping to add to his one test appearance for his country this summer and against his former Worcestershire team-mate Australian bowling legend Glenn McGrath.

The 24-year-old told 'The Independent' that McGrath had been vey helpful in passing on advice to his younger team-mate.

"The main thing he said to me was: 'Just keep it simple. Bowl a good line and length and you'll pick up wickets. I'd love to play against him this summer."

Ali, who has three cousins on the books of county championship sides, admitted he was in awe of the Australian paceman, who is set to reach the magical 500 wicket mark in the forthcoming Ashes series as he enters it on 499.

"The first game I saw him he conceded about eight runs from his first nine overs and picked up a wicket.

"I just thought: 'What is this guy made of?' He's a great professional. He works very hard."

If Ali is picked for the tests rather than just the one dayers he faces a stiff task to help England regain the Ashes.

Australia have not lost a Test series against England since 1986-87 and have won the last four series in England since 1989 - 15 Test victories to four losses with four drawn.

Ali, whose grandfather was born in Kashmir and where he lived from the age of five to 12, said that the sudden flurry of players of Asian origin into the sport was no accident.

"For a long time Asian parents didn't see cricket as a career for their children," said Ali, whose father is the twin brother of the father of his cousins and whose mother is sister of their mother.

"They felt there was no way you could make a living out of it. But times have changed.

"Not everybody can become a doctor or solicitor and people have seen good role models like Nasser Hussain, who've earned a lot of respect.

"Parents are now happy for their children to become sportsmen, though they'll still generally want you to carry on with your studies in case things don't work out. You even see a lot more Asian girls - sikhs and muslims - playing cricket than you used to. I think that's a good thing for everybody."

Ali, though, is at pains to state that despite coming from an Asian background his and other families loyalties lie firmly with England.

"I remember an incident when England played a One-day series against Pakistan here recently. My dad was sitting there watching the game in his England shirt."

"This Asian girl came up to him and said: 'You should be supporting Pakistan.' He said back to her: 'Look we've been born and bred here. What's your problem?'

"I think she was a bit embarrassed. In the past a lot of Asians here supported India or Pakistan, but things have changed. All my friends are totally behind the England team. Especially around my area of Birmingham. Asians have changed. The younger generation regard themselves very much as English."

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