DateLine: 19th July 2010
When one thinks of Saqlain Mushtaq, the word ‘genius’ immediately comes to mind. A cricketing revolutionary, he changed the face of spin bowling once and for all. What was once regarded a defensive and restrictive discipline was magically transformed into an incisive and attacking manoeuvre by this champion offspinner.
Speaking to PakPassion.net ; Saqlain spoke of his wish to work for the betterment of Pakistani cricket and how his real joy these days is to see young cricketers that he has worked with, play for their respective countries.
With the Pakistan team in town for a long and arduous tour of England, it was time firstly to meet up with old friends and teammates at Leicester.’ It was great to meet up with my old friend Waqar Younis,’ said Saqlain. ‘We talked about both sets of opponents (England and Australia), and some of the tactical issues that Pakistan will face on this tough tour.’
Pakistan has the accomplished off spinner Saeed Ajmal amongst their ranks these days, and it was no surprise that Saqlain was ever willing to share his vast knowledge of the art with him. ’Recently I went to the Leicestershire versus Pakistan match and spent a couple of hours with Saeed Ajmal. We analyzed his bowling and looked at the seam position on release, as at times he is bowling with a scrambled seam. We talked about Saeed's grip of the ball and I mentioned a few things about his action that Saeed needs to look at. In addition I discussed the art of dip and how he can utilize his wrist more when he is bowling. As a professional sportsman, it's always important that you analyse your game, and there is always something that needs adjusting and working on. I appreciated Saeed coming to me for advice and it was a good couple of hours'.
Saqlain was working with the New Zealand cricket team's spinners last year during their home series against Pakistan, and he also took the opportunity to speak to the Pakistani spinners during that tour. ’ In the past I have worked with Pakistani cricketers when they have come for advice and help and in New Zealand it was no different. I spent a couple of hours with Danish Kaneria during Pakistan's tour. On the same tour I also spent some time with Shoaib Malik talking to him about some specific areas of his bowling.’
Not only have the New Zealand cricket administrators asked for Saqlain's help, but the England & Wales Cricket Board has also recently turned to Saqlain for his expertise. ‘I toured South Africa in March with the England academy team, and was working with Adil Rashid, James Tredwell, Wayne White and Rory Hamilton-Brown amongst others. In addition, I was working with the England Academy batsmen, advising them on how to play against spinners, explaining to them the psyche of spinners. I believe it takes a spinner to know the mindset of another spinner and the young batsmen appreciated the advice I gave them on how to play against spinners.'
The question on everybody’s minds is however if Saqlain would be willing to work on behalf of Pakistani cricket? ’If the Pakistan Cricket Board wanted to utilize my services at the NCA, I would be more than happy to work at grass roots level for Pakistan cricket,’ stated Saqlain. ‘All they have to do is to speak to me and I will make myself available, I would love to help Pakistani cricket and work with the players at any level. Above all I enjoy working with youngsters and seeing how they develop their talents and enjoying the satisfaction of seeing them develop and doing well in international cricket. Pakistan cricket has given me so much fame as well as adulation from the fans and I would love to give something back to my country. I would have no hesitation in helping develop young spinners that will hopefully go on and represent Pakistan with dignity.'
As for actively playing cricket, this seasoned veteran of 49 Tests and 169 ODIs is still in love with the game. ‘I am busy these days playing league cricket in the Leicester area, as well as doing some coaching for Middlesex. Also, I often get asked to speak at ECB Level 4 coaching seminars. I keep myself occupied and it's great to still be involved in cricket’ stated Saqlain.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has of course already employed three coaches on the tour of England, namely Waqar Younis, Ijaz Ahmed and Aaqib Javed. However the thought of Saqlain Mushtaq working with up and coming spinners at the National Cricket Academy, or the Pakistan Under 19s, or indeed the spinners of the senior team, must surely have the administrators licking their lips, and surely this opportunity should not be missed by the PCB.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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