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You're playing for England, Moeen Ali, not your religion
National identity is not always easy to define. The artist Wassily Kandinsky, for instance, was born in Russia, lived in Germany, and died in France. At various times he was a citizen of each of those countries, though posterity will judge him to be a German painter. Igor Stravinsky, also born in Russia, lived in France and America, and was buried at his request in Venice.
Or how about a man who is still with us? Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires to parents who were Russian Jews. Taken to Israel as a young boy, the pianist‑conductor has spent his adult years living in London, Paris and Berlin. An Israeli by choice, who has been granted honorary Palestinian citizenship, he will support Argentina at the World Cup. "I have multiple identities," he told me some years ago in Chicago (another of his homes), "but my football loyalty will never change."
Some things, he was saying, are in the blood. When it comes to sport, they have to be in the blood, otherwise what are you playing the game for, and for whom? That question arose at 1.55pm on Thursday when Moeen Ali, born in Birmingham 27 years ago to a Pakistani family, walked out to bat for England on a sunlit day at Lord's.
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