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Cricketers on their milestones

Saqlain Mushtaq

Getting to grips with the doosra

Saqlain Mushtaq learnt to bowl the other one with a table tennis ball, did you know?

Interview by Jack Wilson

September 30, 2012

Comments: 62 | Text size: A | A

Saqlain Mushtaq bowling against Somerset, May 31, 2008
Saqlain first bowled the doosra when he was barely in his teens © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Saqlain Mushtaq
Teams: Pakistan

First time I realised I could bowl the doosra
I first worked out a way of bowling it when I was 13. I was playing with a table tennis ball on the roof of our house. The problem was, it was easy to get my fingers round the table tennis ball, but with a cricket ball I couldn't do it. I kept practising and practising and eventually moved from being able to bowl it with a table tennis ball to being able to bowl it with a tennis ball. Once I'd mastered bowling it with a tennis ball I moved on to a cricket ball.

First pair of cricket whites
All the kit I had when I was younger was my brother's, so it would have been a set of his. He was older than me, so I used to share all his gear - but it was all far too big for me.

First big cricket match
I played my first proper match with a hard ball when I was 12. I couldn't wait to play a real game, as cricket had been a massive part of my childhood. I got all my whites ready and laid out in the morning - I was looking forward to it so much.

First time you were called up by Pakistan
It was a dream come true. All the hard work I'd put in had paid off. It was a mixture of excitement and anticipation at the chance of following in the footsteps of some amazing players to represent my country. I was playing in Rawalpindi at the time and the squad had been announced on the radio. I hadn't heard it myself but someone came up to me and said I was in it. I couldn't believe it, but then I got a call from my manager confirming the news.

First hat-trick
I bowled a lot of overs in youth cricket and club cricket but my first hat-trick didn't come until 1999* in the World Cup. We were playing Zimbabwe at The Oval and I managed to clean up the tail. I kept the ball from that game and I still have it in my hall.

*Saqlain got his first international hat-trick in 1996, also against Zimbabwe

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (October 2, 2012, 1:02 GMT)

If he had played till the age of 35-36 he would have been the bradman of bowlers.

Posted by Ajayvs on (October 1, 2012, 22:03 GMT)

@Shubham Bajpai, obviously you have not seen him bowl, if you have then you will not make such silly comments. There used to be a time when Indians feared him more than the great W's Wasim and Waqar, that speaks volume of his talent. He was by no means a one series wonder like some of other mystery bowlers..

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (October 1, 2012, 19:09 GMT)

I didnt like his introduction in his profile by saying perhaps he was first to master doosra. He was definatly first the inventer of dosra and master it too. Great service to cricket. He made spinners a formidable force for modern cricket where they can bowl at any stage of game with this huge variety.

Posted by   on (October 1, 2012, 9:52 GMT)

Downfall of his career was not due to selectors, rather it was due to his fitness as both of his knees were operated and he was not the same player as he used to be. He was also sacked from his county for the given reason. But what a bowler he was

Posted by rovar on (October 1, 2012, 7:29 GMT)

What a bowler he was ? Curious to know y he was discarded so early ? What a waste of talet it was ? Ajmal & all the other current offies are not even half as good as he was. Who can forget that murmer of Moin Khan behind the wicket "Well bowl saki".

Posted by LillianThomson on (October 1, 2012, 2:06 GMT)

For those of you who haven't understood my point about a left-arm fast bowler, I'll go into more detail. When a left-arm quick bowler bowls over the wicket he ends up having to veer away from the stumps in his delivery stride and creates a line of rough around 4-12 inches outside the off-stump of the right-handed batsman who will face at that end in the next over. In Test cricket this is precisely where an off-spinner will aim, whether he has a doosra or not, because he needs to bring the batsman forward to play a ball which might turn in towards off-stump. A conventional off-spinner's arm-ball might go straight and be edged to the keeper, while a doosra might be edged to slip. I learned this from watching Saqlain in the nets at Brisbane in 1999: he practised by aiming at a stump placed on the ground in front of the crease. I'm not belittling the ability of the great offies: assistance from footmarks is no less legitimate than a fast bowler using the moisture on day one.

Posted by   on (October 1, 2012, 1:18 GMT)

Cricket is an absolutely equal game. The fast bowler holds the seam of the ball, on the seam, so his grip is uncertain. The spin bowler holds the ball with a small part of his fingers. and his grip is better. Apparently, the fast bowler couldn't have spun the ball, if he doesn't bowl slow, and if he doesn't hold the ball like the spinner. The spin bowler is somehow perceived to be more predictable, because of slow speed, and batsmen wait for the ball to spin, and actually want the delivery to spin in a manner they don't expect. I used to play cricket with my father. it seems, he bowled a bit like Kumble. The delivery was fast in the air, but when it pitched, it did anything. It actually did the same thing, but if it pitches in different regions, and if the delivery is faster after it pitches, much faster, and if the speed after it pitches is not the same, then one can see problems. I wanted to see the delivery doing the unexpected, and to do what I had to.

Posted by   on (October 1, 2012, 1:11 GMT)

He was a true legend.I remember watching one of the test matches and Saqulain bowling a doosra which spinned more that a traditional leg spinner spinning it.It was a pity how pakistan selectors managed him in the latter part of his career.

Posted by Vishal_07 on (October 1, 2012, 0:12 GMT)

Could have been the World's best bowler ever if Pakistan's board had not shut down his career. I believe he is the only spinner who troubled India in India.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 22:35 GMT)

An absolute legend of the game!

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