CARDIFF: Moeen Ali has become the first England player to confirm unreservedly that he will be available for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh.
The future of the tour was in the balance after an attack on a Dhaka cafe in July killed 20 — mostly foreign — hostages, with the Islamic State group claiming responsibility.
But all-rounder Ali, speaking in Cardiff on Saturday ahead of England’s fifth and final one-day international against Pakistan in the Welsh capital on Sunday, said: “If selected, I’ll definitely go.
“I’m pretty happy with everything and really looking forward to it,” the 29-year-old Worcestershire off-spinner and left-handed batsman added.
Following the Dhaka attack, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) sent an inspection team to Bangladesh led by long-serving security chief Reg Dickason.
After he reported back, the ECB said last month that the tour, which includes three one-day international and two Test match fixtures in October and November, would go ahead as planned.
“My view is you’re not safe anywhere these days,” said Ali.
England assistant coach Paul Farbrace, who was with the Sri Lanka squad when their bus came under armed attack in Lahore in 2009, has also said he intends to travel to Bangladesh.
But England one-day captain Eoin Morgan, who was among a group of players given a security briefing by Dickason, said Friday he had still to make up his mind.
Ali added he had no qualms about anyone taking their time over deciding whether to tour.
“It’s up to the individual. There’s no pressure on anyone — it’s up to that person and how he feels.
“For me, even before the meeting with Reg, I was happy to go.”
Meanwhile Ali was looking forward to helping England complete a 5-0 clean sweep against Pakistan — something they’ve never previously managed in a home ODI series.
For England, following on from their world record ODI total of 444 for three in the fourth match of the series in Nottingham, it would be further proof of the progress they have made in 50-over cricket since their humiliating first-round exit at last year’s World Cup.
“It will be a massive achievement, and it just shows how good this side is and the way we’re going,” said Ali.
England won the fourth ODI at Headingley on Thursday after Ben Stokes (69) and Jonny Bairstow (61) put on 103 following a collapse to 72 for four.
For Ali, who made 45 not out after taking two for 39 in a fine all-round performance, this was fresh evidence of England’s “amazing” progress in white-ball cricket.
“We’ve got players who can take bowling apart, but also – when there is a bit of a wobble – guys like Stokesy and Bluey (Bairstow)… had to play very smart,” he said.
“They were still positive … and in the end, we cruised to victory.”
The only blot on Ali’s Headingley display was another of his infamous ‘moon balls’, the spinner’s latest sailing high over wicket-keeper Bairstow’s head.
“It just slips out,” Ali explained.
“I grip the ball so hard, and really try to put a lot of revs on it and spin it as much as I can — and sometimes it does slip out.
He added he was enjoying bowling in the ODIs, where he had more protection than in the preceding 2-2 drawn Test series that saw him repeatedly targeted by Pakistan’s batsmen.
“Test cricket is hard sometimes, because we’ve got such a good seam attack that I’m going to get attacked,” Ali said.
“In the one-dayers, you have guys set back and no short-leg and a slip, so it’s a little bit easier.”