Pakistan in England 2010

Mushtaq hails Swann's impact on offspin

Andrew Miller

July 27, 2010

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Swann removed Mushfiqur Rahim to close in on his five-for, England v Bangladesh, 2nd npower Test, Old Trafford, June 5, 2010
Graeme Swann has become the key figure in England's bowling attack and will be central to their hopes against Pakistan and Australia © PA Photos
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Mushtaq Ahmed, England's spin bowling coach, believes that Graeme Swann has "changed the game" in bringing an attacking outlook back to offspin bowling, and says that he will be England's key weapon when they take on his native country, Pakistan, in the four-match Test series that gets underway at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

However, Mushtaq also warned that Pakistan's levels of confidence and self-belief will be as high as they have been for months after their thrilling series-levelling victory over Australia at Headingley on Saturday, and backed an exciting team with "lots of potential and lots of youth" to give England a run for their money in the coming weeks.

As one of the great legspinners of the 1990s, Mushtaq claimed 185 wickets in 52 Tests and played a key role in consecutive Pakistan series wins in England in 1992 and 1996. However, it is as a mentor to England's slow bowlers that Mushtaq currently makes his living, and in that regard, he believes he is working with one of the best talents in the game.

"Swanny has changed everything in the last year or so," Mushtaq told Cricinfo. "He's singlehandedly won lots of games for England in all different conditions, and played a brilliant role for the art of fingerspin. One thing is for sure, not many offspinners have the potential like he has. You can see his variety - he's a big spinner of the ball but he gets drift, and he has a repertoire of straight balls as well, and that makes him a very difficult bowler from a batting point of view.

"Also, he is a very confident person, and confidence is everything for spinners," added Mushtaq. "He got lots of runs in the Ashes, so he's a good utility cricketer, and he's a lovely man to have in the dressing room. He's changed the game big time as a fingerspinner, and you're going to find that lots of young people are going to follow Swanny and take up bowling offspin."

England's strategy for the first Test is already in place after they named a 12-man squad that included just the one specialist spinner in Swann. However, with hot dry weather expected for the rest of the summer, and the prospect of two spinners playing at certain stages of the Ashes this winter, England may well find room for an extra slow bowler as the series wears on, and should that happen, then Monty Panesar - who now plays for Mushtaq's former county Sussex - is inching his way back into the reckoning with a string of confident performances in the County Championship.

Panesar has not featured for England since last summer's first Ashes Test at Cardiff, when his bowling was off-colour but he helped save the match with the bat. He was omitted from the winter tours of South Africa and Bangladesh, and even left out of the England Performance Squad at the beginning of 2010. But according to Mushtaq, the time on the sidelines was an important part of Panesar's personal development.

"We have had some communication with him, but overall it is good for people to go and find out their own game sometimes," said Mushtaq. "It's important for them to learn for themselves what they are lacking, basically. Monty has gone back to Sussex, where he's in good hands with an excellent coach in Mark Robinson, and where Michael Yardy is a friend and his captain. The last time I saw him he was happy and enjoying his cricket, and that's why he's performing."

Monty Panesar spends time with Mushtaq Ahmed during England's net session, St Kitts, January 23, 2009
Mushtaq Ahmed believes Monty Panesar will have benefited from his time away from the top level © Getty Images

Though he was reluctant to be drawn on the merits of Pakistan's chief legspinner, Danish Kaneria, against whom he is doubtless helping England develop gameplans, Mushtaq was more forthcoming on the subject of Mohammad Aamer, the 18-year-old left-arm paceman who has been living up to his billing as the next Wasim Akram with a series of eyecatching performances against Australia. Wasim himself believes Aamer is a better-developed cricketer than he was at the same age, but Mushtaq - who played alongside the great man in his pomp - believed that it was too early to make such lofty comparisons.

"It's a long way to go to follow Wasim Akram," he said. "Maybe Wasim was being modest in saying that, but sometimes we judge people too early. It's a great honour for Aamer to have a legend like Wasim saying things like that, and I think overall he's a very good talent, but he has to keep performing at that level if he wants to emulate Wasim. Hopefully he can do that because it will mean a great future for Pakistan."

Mushtaq was a fascinated bystander during the recent neutral series between Pakistan and Australia, and not merely because his current employers will be facing both teams before the year is out. Coming at a time when his home country is in crisis, and with no prospect of international cricket being played there in the near future, the opportunity for Pakistan to play a home series away from home, and to emerge with a share of the spoils after victories in the two Twenty20s and the series-levelling second Test, was invaluable.

"It's a great boost for the Pakistan nation," said Mushtaq. "Cricket is the game in Pakistan and when the team wins anything, the fans really like to celebrate. They start believing in the players and the players start believing in themselves, and every team that wins against Australia in a Test match takes a great boost from it. It will give the players a lot of confidence, and especially after waiting for 15 years."

Though Mushtaq admitted he was surprised by the small crowds that turned out, especially at Headingley, he still believed that the concept of the neutral Test had been a success. "It works because at least Pakistan are playing cricket," he said. "At least they are not sitting at home and waiting, so well done to the ICC on that issue, and well done to the ECB for providing places to come and play cricket against Pakistan. It's a very good sign for Pakistan to have a place to play away from home.

"But it's important for Pakistan cricket to be able to go back home, for the peace of the region," he added. "Many people in the world are united through a love of cricket, irrespective of where we're from and whom we support, and an atrocity like the one that took place in Lahore last year has a terrible impact on the game we love. It affects everyone and everything - players, fans and morale - but hopefully visiting teams can get that confidence to travel as soon as possible, and go back to playing there."

Mushtaq Ahmed is an ambassador for the Not in My Game anti-terrorism campaign. For more details, visit

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (July 31, 2010, 9:20 GMT)

@Shehad76- If u r talkin about sachi tendulkar or sangakara den better check the records again coz dey r one of d best and sachin is one of the greatest palyer dats y Sir Don Bradman also c glimse of himself in sachin... n about positive cricket then v knw y pak vs eng matches vil b xciting coz top 6 players frm pakistan wil always b in paivilion even before team reaches 50runs mark... so for sure u wil get fast results.. may b in 3 days.

Posted by Rohan4U3K_U on (July 30, 2010, 21:00 GMT)

@shehzad76..yes u r right..?? pakistan 149/9 very exciting cricket and exciting for only for england bro..U guyz r still in last place and don have any hometown to play game..dude wake up..

Posted by TRUEKOP on (July 30, 2010, 16:16 GMT)

@thegangster , I mentioned "developed" and not "invented". Accepted Saqlani invented it.

Posted by dreamerdx on (July 30, 2010, 15:10 GMT)

@ TRUEKOP: as thegangster said that Saqlain was the one who invented the doosra but no some Bhajji or Murali. Murali has been one of a great bowler and please dnt disrespect him by putting Bhajji name next to him. I also want to add that all the special deliveries in cricket was invented by pakistanis and none by Inda.

Posted by thegangster on (July 30, 2010, 6:18 GMT)


Doosra was invented by Saqlain . Not Murli or Bhajji

Posted by shehzad76 on (July 30, 2010, 2:08 GMT)

Pakistanis always play positive test cricket actually rather than boring big scores as currently being observed in SL Vs Ind test match.. such a crap test match. Everyone wanna make individual scores..haha and wanna be called as GREAT BATSMAN by scoring runs in drawn test matches without any thrill. Pak Vs Eng will be a great contest bcz Eng can play spin bowling very well due to coaching of Mushi bhai. Pakistani batsmen have to show their consistency otherwise it would be very difficult to take win from Eng.

Posted by ashy16in_ on (July 29, 2010, 2:59 GMT)

It is heartening to see Swann grow in leaps and bounds within such a short period of time and is now one of England's main strike bowlers. On current form he is the best off spinner in International cricket. As an Indian it is frustrating to see Harbhajan after having played in International cricket for more than a decade is still inconsistent and has not graduated from being a good bowler to a great bowler.

Posted by TRUEKOP on (July 28, 2010, 23:26 GMT)

Let swan bowl in SL and India, without a shout of doubt he will be mercilessly exposed. One things folks here must remember, Bhajji murali developed the doosra because there was no other alternative to take wickets, Are they fools to do that if a big turning OFF break always did the trick....even a standard ranji player will mercilessly murder Swan if he continues to proudly not develop a doosra...

Posted by FASY on (July 28, 2010, 16:52 GMT)

Offcourse swann is very good offspinner and Dont forget Swann is an allrounder and will be very helpful for england tail

Posted by ShakeelUrRehman on (July 28, 2010, 16:44 GMT)

I Think this contest is going to be interesting one. Pakistan has to work hard to beat England but it will depend on Pakistani Batsman, how they play?

Posted by ShakeelUrRehman on (July 28, 2010, 16:39 GMT)

I Think this contest is going to be interesting one. Pakistan has to work hard to beat England but it will depend on Pakistani Batsman, how they play?

Posted by Rogue777 on (July 28, 2010, 16:35 GMT)

How can you say Swann is so great when he has hardly performed against countries like Sri Lanka who are known to play spinners well. I was also looking at Pakisthan's fixtures and noticed the 4 test series they have against England in England! And how often India and Pakisthan have 4 or 5 test series against countries like SA and Aus. When will Sri Lanka ever be given long series like that? How are we to improve in England, SA and Aus if we are never given the chance like Sanga says!

Posted by addiemanav on (July 28, 2010, 15:06 GMT)

cant agree more!!swann is definitely he best off-spinner currently..murali will always remain doubtful, who got the icc to twist and tweak the rules to fit him in the system!!and now is outburst against bedi is distatseful and utterly disgraceful!! harbhajan is over-rated..he cant bowl with attacking field ..dhoni has to put defensive filed for him right from the its not wrong to say that swann is the best currently!!

Posted by SachinIsTheGreatest on (July 28, 2010, 13:10 GMT)

Without doubt Swann has brought back the art of traditional spin. He bowls with great control, is not afraid to toss the ball up and keeps coming back at the opposition. It has become tiring watching the likes of Harbhajan pitch it on middle and turn it down leg or try fancy stuff like doosras and teesras. Swann is certainly the best spinner in the world today. I hope he continues in the same vein.

Posted by Fast-Bowler on (July 28, 2010, 11:14 GMT)

mushtaq is was a great leg spinner and a great jollysome character as well..... he is doing well for england.....

Posted by   on (July 28, 2010, 11:04 GMT)

Mushi pakistan needs your can help pakistan team get out of the rot.

Posted by   on (July 28, 2010, 9:51 GMT)

mushtaq dont forget theres another legend before u that was abdul qadir, dont act cocky cuz in pakistan team there will be usman qadir soon (abdul qadir son) he is playin well in pakistan under 19's hope he gets a chance an then show whos better spinner then u, dont show off because u are coach of england an sayin swann is best i know he is good but not better than the legends shane warne an murali an yeh abdul qadir.

Posted by HUNK9228 on (July 28, 2010, 9:15 GMT)

Swann Having enough talent and tempo to emerge as another spin legend...

Posted by crickstats on (July 28, 2010, 4:27 GMT)

Its worth mentioning theat Mushy was the MOM when Pakistan bt Australia in Australia

Posted by   on (July 28, 2010, 2:48 GMT)

Mustaq Ahmed is better working for England then Pakistan. PCA is filled with bunch of losers and donkeys that don't care about the old players that came out from the Country. Waqar, Aqib and Ijaz are getting there chances after no one is willing to work in Pakistan. He wanted to help Pakistan before no one gave him or wanted him. I dont care where he coaches but for me he is my great Pakistani who won the World Cup for Pakistan

Posted by wanderer1 on (July 28, 2010, 0:39 GMT)

Cricket will be back in Pakistan in a few years time. Take a look at Sri Lanka for so long half the country was effectively shut off, terrorism prevailing, and today it's as united as it has ever been. When people start leaving Pakistan alone and not deliberately destabilising it from within and outside, it will recover like Sri Lanka.

Posted by SRKRISHNAN on (July 28, 2010, 0:31 GMT)

The present English team seems to be a tough one, can take up the speed duo of Amir and Asif. They have potential as well as aggressive batsmen. They too have a pair of good swing bowlers in Anderson and Broad. Swan is currently the best off spinner in the world. Harbajan singh is on the way out. Murali has just resigned. Swan has proved in difficult pitches too. I am sure, Amir and Asif will give enough worries to Englishmen especially with the new ball to the openers Strauss and Cook. Strauss is a well exprienced batsman and Cook does not throw his wicket away; but prefers to wait for the loose ones to hit and hit hard. Let us wait and see how Pakistan team under the new captain Salman Butt plays in the swing conditions in England. A tough battle series ahed.

Posted by   on (July 27, 2010, 20:27 GMT)

Mushtaq, first you go live in Pakistan before asking other cricket playing nations to visit...

Posted by mojitho on (July 27, 2010, 16:51 GMT)

mast mushtaq bhai....try to go back to pakistan and help ur kins they are in need of ur help now.......

Posted by   on (July 27, 2010, 15:41 GMT)

Mushi the man. legend. asset.

Posted by   on (July 27, 2010, 15:03 GMT)

England, after last Ashes which had faster bowler coach did right job for the development of English pace attack, now they are looking after spin department and appointed spinner coach Mushtaq Ahmed(Pakistan renown leg spinner) to groom their potential spinners to attack along with spinners with new strategy they will make against upcoming ASHES series against much weakened Aussie side without Shane Warne,Mcgrath and Gilchrist.Now the Aussies will have challenge of spinners and good consistent English Team after 4 matches against Pakistan which will sharpen their sword against the real challenge that's ASHES!

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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