England in West Indies 2008-09 January 23, 2009

Mushtaq aims to rejuvenate Monty

Cricinfo staff

Mushtaq on Monty: 'Monty has that potential to win games single-handedly' © Getty Images
England are without a head coach for their tour of West Indies, but are certainly not short of people to offer advice in their own areas of expertise. Mushtaq Ahmed, the former Pakistan legspinner, is part of the squad during the early days of the trip, in his first official duties as spin-bowling coach, and has been charged with trying to turn around Monty Panesar's dip in form.

Mushtaq was due to be part of the India tour before Christmas, but problems with his work visa meant he never made the journey while Peter Moores was still in charge. Mushtaq and Moores go back a long way - the former England coach was the man who brought Mushtaq to Sussex and revived his career. Mushtaq went onto have a glorious time at Hove, helping Sussex to three Championship titles, and now the hope is that some of his magic can rub off on Panesar.

Panesar's form was on a downward curve for much of 2008 - he peaked with a match-turning 6 for 37 against New Zealand at Old Trafford - as he struggled to make an impact against South Africa and, more significantly, in favourable conditions against India. He managed just six wickets in two Tests and was considerably out-bowled by Graeme Swann, leaving him with a real fight for his place for the first time since he was surprisingly left out at the start of the 2006-07 Ashes series.

"He is a match-winner," Mushtaq told the Press Association on England's first full day of training in St Kitts. "People like Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf hardly praise spinners because they're too good against them.

"But after Pakistan played against England in England [in 2006], they told me he was the most difficult bowler to face; the Indians said that same thing. Spinners sometimes can have bad days, so as a spinner if you play six games and win two games, that is a good ratio, I believe. Monty has that potential to win games single-handedly."

Mushtaq has a limited amount of time to help Panesar and then it will be down to the man himself. Andrew Strauss has said how he wants the England players to look after their own requirements much more on this tour, but Mushtaq said it is important for spinners to work together.

"He is laughing and having fun, that is important, and you can tell he has less pressure on his shoulders now," Mushtaq said. "You have to discuss the art of spin in the nets, but you also have to develop the person in the nets with passion."

This short spell in West Indies is also important for Mushtaq as he tries to establish the next phase of his career as a coach. He will share his time with Sussex next summer, but whatever role he takes in the game is still overshadowed by the results of Qayyum commission into match-fixing nine years ago.

Mushtaq was found not guilty but the report said he should be carefully monitored and 'not be given any office of responsibility in the team or on the board'. The ICC have also requested he undergoes an anti-corruption course while his mobile phone records will be open to scrutiny.

"I hope it [the report] does go away. There wasn't any evidence," Mushtaq said. "I have nothing to say on these things. Wherever you go in the world, you need evidence, so when you don't have evidence, you can't assume things. I am a very satisfied man.

"As a professional I just have to concentrate on my job," he added. "Whatever rumours go around, it is up to the company, such as the ECB, to consider if I am good enough. I am glad that they think like that."