Image courtesy of: The Telegraph
Ahmed is the man behind all the success both Swann and Panesar have experienced
Former Pakistan leg-spinner and current England spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed believes Graeme Swann is by far one of the best and most dexterous spinners in all of international cricket today.
Ahmed noted that Swann was extremely “intelligent” and a magician with the ball, while his partner in crime Monty Panesar has also started to gain some recognition after his outstanding performance during the India Test series last year.
“Graeme Swann is one of the most intelligent bowlers that I have worked with,” Ahmed told PTI. “You tell him something and he has an amazing grasping power. Even with Monty (Panesar), I have had lengthy and fruitful discussions on various aspects of spin bowling.”
Ahmed was largely credited as the man behind England’s victory in India last year, but the former Pakistan leg-spinner downplayed his impact and attributed the historic win to the efforts of the entire team.
“First, you need to win over the confidence of players,” he said. “The next part is talking straight which the English players respect. I told Graeme and Monty to work on their strengths than waste time thinking about the weaknesses of Indian players. Remember, one good ball doesn’t necessarily get you a wicket but a good over does.”
However, Ahmed hasn’t only been working with England’s spinners, but also with flamboyant batsman Kevin Pietersen, who is known for having a weakness against spin bowling.
“KP is a team player,” Ahmed added. “I discussed a lot about how to tackle Indian spinners before the Mumbai Test match and it yielded results. His commitment is fantastic. He came for two days and even with an injured leg gave throwdowns to that little kid (Unmukt).”
During the India Test series, it seemed that the major battle was between India’s spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha and England’s spin duo of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.
When asked about the differences between the two duos, Ahmed said: “I guess they (Ojha-Ashwin) erred a bit on varying the pace of their deliveries through the air. Their rotation on deliveries was slow and our bowlers kept it a bit fast. We read the pitches and would tell them whether to bowl at 55 mph, 56 or 57 mph. For our batsmen,even if they made a mistake, they could recover due to slow nature.”
Despite being England’s spin bowling coach, Ahmed pointed out that it was also key to be a role model to all of the players in the side.
“I understood how important it is to be a fit coach,” Ahmed said. “If I can’t do what I tell my student to do, he would never respect me. If I tell Monty to bowl 20 overs at a stretch, I have to have an equally good work ethic so that my player listens to me.”