LONDON: England has roped in Pakistani legend and doosra inventor Saqlain Mushtaq to help struggling Moeen Ali and cope with top ranked Test bowler Yasir Shah.
Ali is facing the biggest threat to his place after the inclusion of Adil Rashid to the England squad for the second Test. The move has put pressure on Moeen’s place after more than two years as the team’s first-choice spinner.
Since making his debut in 2014 Moeen has missed only one Test through injury and has become a trusted player for Alastair Cook.
But he is averaging 92 with the ball this calendar year and in four Tests against Pakistan stretching back to the UAE in October, he has been milked or smashed for runs by players adept at dealing with finger spin.
At Lord’s he admitted “I just feel like I can’t bowl at him sometimes,” when asked about Misbah ul-Haq, a clear plea for help that England hope Saqlain can answer this week.
Landed safely in Manchester looking forward to seeing you all @ECB_cricket
— Saqlain Mushtaq (@Saqlain_Mushtaq) July 19, 2016
According to British media, Saqlain will begin his stint with England on Wednesday and is due to stay with them until the end of the second Test. If it is successful then a contract for the winter tours to Bangladesh and India will likely follow.
At Worcestershire he learned from Saeed Ajmal, who taught him how to bowl the doosra, a delivery famously invented by Saqlain that is a leg-break bowled with an off-spinner’s action.
Moeen has bowled the doosra a couple of times in Test cricket but it is hard to send down without bending the arm and Moeen has been worried by the ICC crackdown on bowling actions that cut short Ajmal’s career.
Part of Saqlain’s remit this week will be to help the England batsmen cope with Yasir Shah and he will have little chance to work on technique with Moeen and Rashid. Instead his job will be to help them tactically and build morale.
In Moeen’s case Saqlain’s remit will be to convince him that Misbah is human. There is no doubt Misbah is fine player of spin but his method is pretty simple. He just looks to smash or slog Moeen.
“It is unfair for everyone to judge Moeen as a spinner,” Shane Warne said during the Lord’s Test.
“He has played all of his life as batsman bowling part-time off-spin. He is doing a very good job but you can’t rely him to take five or six wickets on turning pitches against good sides because he does not have that mindset. It is too much expect him to do a job like Yasir Shah.”