Pakistan v England 2011-12 December 16, 2011

Mushtaq predicts high quality contest against Pakistan


Mushtaq Ahmed, England's spin bowling coach, has played down the home advantage Pakistan will enjoy during the series against England in the UAE, saying his team has grown used to playing on pitches that are slower than the ones at home. England and Pakistan will play three Tests, four ODIs and three Twenty20 internationals in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in January and February 2012.

Pakistan have been hosting their home games in the UAE after the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009 forced the suspension of international tours to the country. They have played two Test series there since then, drawing against South Africa and beating Sri Lanka. Mushtaq, however, said England would not struggle against Pakistan's spinners on the pitches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

"England batsmen have learned to play spin bowling. They can manage spin with good control," Mushtaq told ESPNcricinfo. "We won a World Twenty20 in the West Indies where conditions are similar. At the end, it all depends on individual players, they have to understand and learn the things to survive. And they are very hard workers.

"Pakistan no doubt has improved a lot and rankings sometime don't reflect your standing. And England has been in top form over the last two to three years. So I expect it would be a good quality series."

Spinners have played a significant role in Pakistan's performances in 2011 and they are likely to hit England with a strong attack: Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Hafeez in the Tests, as well as Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik in the limited-overs matches. England may play just one spinner, Graeme Swann, in the Tests, but Mushtaq didn't think the mismatch in slow-bowling resources was a problem.

"I understand the pitches in the UAE are slow and Pakistan will obviously use their home advantage. We have Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett - all of them can bowl 90 mph. I don't think wickets do matter these days when you have quick bowlers who can bowl with muscle."

Swann's back-up on the UAE tour is left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, whose last Test was the Ashes opener in Cardiff in 2009. It remains to be seen whether England will alter the combination - three fast bowlers, one spinner - that helped them beat India 4-0 at home to accommodate a second slow bowler in the UAE.

"He [Panesar] has been a match-winning bowler and is still a good prospect," Mushtaq said. "His performance for Sussex brought him back to contention as he took 60 to 70 wickets in the domestic season, which is a lot for a spinner. He is the sort of left-arm spinner who bowls his orthodox delivery with force."

England open their tour with two warm-up games, the first of which begins on January 7, ahead of the Tests.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2011, 22:18 GMT

    MrBrightside92:I accept that England are the number one test side, the rankings a true reflection of that position. The rankings also say India are number two but after what happened last summer some people might argue with that. What I do not accept is that England are a vastly superior test side to India despite the 4-0 "Thrashing". India played poorly and there are many mitigating circumstances for this. The team arrived under prepared, mentally fatigued, carrying injuries, not excuses but facts. England could only beat the team put in front of them and did. Credit to England who played to their strengths.Used home conditions to their advantage .India a team that had acquired a great deal of mental toughness seemed to go into collective meltdown, it happens and has happened to England several times in the past.We need to see where both teams go from here. Indian fans are the most passionate but also the most unforgiving should it seem that lessons were not learned from the summer.

  • Ben on December 19, 2011, 15:19 GMT

    Keep digging Mr GP….'You're only as good as your last game'…what utter clichéd drivel. If you win 300 games on the bounce then lose 5, you're considered rubbish? That's why we have rankings. We are all influenced by the media, we read and comment on cricinfo...I mentioned it as a root cause of extreme views. I read about Dhoni weeping after winning the World Cup, I can't imagine the euphoria that gripped his nation with that deserved success. Well, England fan's pinnacle is to be the best test side and to hand out some long over beatings to our friends down under. 2011 achieved that so give us our day in the sun too! You're right, the top 5 sides are evenly matched (incl Pak excl SL) so a trouncing is even more remarkable. I've ignored your view that Gambhir, Dhoni, Kohli and Raina are only good enough to be in the Indian 2nd team. World Cup winners only fit for2nd eleven? Quite disrespectful...

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2011, 14:25 GMT

    5wombats: we are not discussing India here we discussing England. You are only as good as your last result and England's last series results show a 5-0 ODI drubbing at the hands of a second string Indian side. Had it have been a test series played on the sub continent the result would probably been the same. MrBrightside92 " our media is driven by headlines of the ilk where we're the best ever or the worst ever, average headlines don't sell newspapers". Unfortunately most English fans are only to willing to believe the hype. There is not one dominant side in world cricket at the moment and the number one spot will be a constantly fluctuating position for many years to come.

  • salman on December 19, 2011, 14:23 GMT

    Well for all those indian fans who think dat eng has not won a test in india in last 25 years, eng did beat india fair and square in mumbai in 2006 due to freddie flintoff's heroics !!.

  • Alan on December 19, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    @ Apoorv Pandey: "wat about england in india and in one day more humiliation last 11 nil if join another six then 17-1". There are some statistical flaws here. Firstly, you seem to have omitted to notice India and England's meeting in the 2011 world cup, which finished in a tie. Therefore the last 11 England-India ODIs in India have finished with 10 India wins and one tie. Secondly 11 + 6 =17, whereas 17+1 =18. Thirdly, the last 17 (or if you prefer18) England-India ODIs in India (emcompassing the 2011, 2008 and most of the 2006 series, plus one-off meetings in the 2011 world cup and 2006 champions' trophy), have in fact finished 15 or if you prefer 16) wins to India, 1 tie, and 1 win to England (excluding 1 no result in the 2006 series). Well, I agree that that still is a pretty poor record from an England point of view. But it's important to get one's facts right, and it's also fun to be pedant ...

  • Ben on December 19, 2011, 9:25 GMT

    @GP20...Sir, you dig yourself a bigger hole..which is the greater achievement, being No1 with the blessed talent that India possess or with a team of journeymen? Also, a 5-0 ODI series when previous scores 12-1 up in similar conditions or a 4-0 test series win when the previous comparison is 0-1 reverse? The 4-0 scoreline did not flatter England. The 1-1 against South Africa DID flatter England but that what's so great about Test cricket, if you fight hard you can come out evens! England's journeyman model means if a player is injured, the player replacing will not mean a drop in team strength. I don't think we will be phoning up some fat bowler on holiday because our ONE strike bowler is injured. Obviously, our media is driven by headlines of the ilk where we're the best ever or the worst ever, average headlines don't sell newspapers. Vaughn saying we'll be one of the favourites for the next World Cup is also laughable! A true England fan will be wary of Pakistan! Happy Holidays!

  • Martin on December 19, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    @Gerard Pereira; Your excuses are based on irrelevent india cricket history and thus have no credibility. Then you state; (England) "a side of journeymen destined to win a few and lose a few. A side I would not pay to watch". If you post provocative comments like this on an England/Pakistan forum then you display a lack of both understanding and class. Sore losers utterly unable to grasp the realities make comments like that. Live your excuses if you want - carry on persuading yourself if you want - live in 2007 if you want - dwell on what you percieve to be "past glories" if you want - whatever makes you happy. It won't change what happened to india in England in 2011 - so no one will take any notice, because the world moves on. Time to move on. Cricinfo are not publishing my replies to you. Perhaps they will publish this...

  • Srinivas on December 18, 2011, 22:19 GMT

    @MBS92, wow how could I even have missed your posts all along? Pleasure reading your inputs Sir. Absolutely spot on! I would like to add that Pakistan is a very strong team and play with lot of heart. But somehow I feel their batting is suspect quite often. I would rate the consistency of the England batsmen way superior to that of Pakistan. I think it's going to be England all the way in all the formats except that it's not going to be as easy as the difference in rankings suggests. This should be one heck of a series. Mouth watering contest between a thoroughly professional outfit vs an outfit that is fighting against all odds with a lion heart. Take a bow to this series!

  • Srinivas on December 18, 2011, 21:47 GMT

    @Gerard Pereira, I understand where you are coming from. But, please read my last post and this post as well and let me know what you have to put forward about India's and England's injuries during our tour to England. Sorry to barge in but I feel you are being a bit harsh on the English team. Don't look at their team of XI. Look at their SQUAD. That's the difference between us and England. Please let it go. We lost because our SQUAD isn't as good as England's SQUAD and also England used some special grassbowls and special Duke balls from 2010. That also didn't help our cause. May be we need to learn a lesson or two about Squad strength and utilising home conditions to the maximum, ranging from match balls to pitches, unapologetically.

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2011, 20:33 GMT

    5wombats : Whitewashes don't happen to great sides,Correct. England just got whitewashed in the ODIs so what does that make them? You are going to say these were ODIs so they don't count. Wrong, I did not see the great West Indies side or the Australians at there peak getting whitewashed by anybody in any format. You are either a great side or you are not. I never claimed India were a great side on par with the West Indies or Australia of yesteryear. They are a side however that had in their ranks two of the greatest run getters in cricket history , a destroyer of bowlers in Shewag. an artist called Laxman , the third highest wicket taker in tests in Kumble another top ten test bowler in Harbajan, thats how they worked themselves up to number one. I don't see anyone of comparable talent in the England side that is why I think they are a side of journeymen destined to win a few and lose a few. A side I would not pay to watch.

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