Pakistan spin legend Saqlain Mushtaq discusses bowling, England and Moeen Ali ahead of Lashings All Star games in Bromley and Blackheath

Pakistan legend Saqlain Mushtaq talks cricket ahead of Lashings All Star games in Bromley and Blackheath

Pakistan spin legend Saqlain Mushtaq discusses bowling, England and Moeen Ali ahead of Lashings All Star games in Bromley and Blackheath

Saqlain and England legend John Emburey

First published in News
Last updated
News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , leisure editor

When the Expendables 3 hits cinemas in a couple of weeks, audiences will see some of the world’s biggest stars of yesteryear (plus a couple of fit young guns) rolling back the years and providing a couple of hours of explosions.

You can read about that in next week’s paper.

Before then, crowds can see some of the world’s biggest stars of yesteryear (plus a couple of fit young guns) rolling back the years and providing a few hours of explosive cricket.

The Lashings All Star cricket side – whose roster includes legends of the game like Courtney Walsh, Gordon Greenidge, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Herschelle Gibbs and Mohammad Yousaf – will be taking on Blackheath (Sunday) and Bromley (Wednesday, August 13). Their packed fixture list also includes games in September against Streatham and Marlborough in Dulwich and Eynsford.

The team, which is based in Maidstone, offers a fun way for clubs to raise money and also makes cash for charity at the same time.

And the crowd and opposition players aren’t the only ones having a blast - the stars love it too.

Pakistan and Surrey spin legend Saqlain Mushtaq, who was the fastest bowler to 100 wickets in One Day International Cricket, told News Shopper: “It’s full of entertainment and joy and it’s relaxing.

“I have played against these boys from all over the world and had banter out on the field and now I’m having a great time in the dressing room playing with them.

“It’s all about having fun. I always look forward to the summer and Lashings.”

As well as playing for Lashings, the off-spinner is an in demand coach.

He runs his own cricket academy in Leicester, coaches once a week in London and has been a spin bowling consultant for just about every test-playing nation, including England Lions.

Saqlain said: “I love it. I love playing cricket, talking cricket, coaching cricket, seeing cricket and being part of it.

“Cricket is my love, my passion, my everything. I can’t go away from cricket. I have always loved it and enjoyed it and hopefully while my body allows me, I’ll keep playing.”

While his expertise has been valued all over the world, Saqlain believes there should be more of a focus on spin bowling coaching.

The Surrey legend, who spent eight years at the Oval, said: “It is a shame in this country that we have full time coaches for batting, fast bowling and fielding but there is no-one full time to look after the spinners.

“The highest test wicket taker, one dayers and T20s, they’re all spinners. Spinners are dominating.

“And in the last test (between England and India in Southampton), Moeen Ali took six wickets and England won because of the spin.

“When India and Australia were number one in the world and Pakistan were number one or number two, the spinners did a lot of good work.”

Moeen Ali may have taken six wickets in his last innings, but most critics still consider him a part time bowler and despair of the lack of a first choice spinner since Graeme Swann retired.

Saqlain, 37, is optimistic about Moeen’s performance.

He said: “The way he has been bowling – in two test matches he has taken 14 or 15 wickets – you expect that from a main bowler. He is young and has just started his international career but he is showing that he has potential that you can believe in him as a frontline bowler.

“But you still have to find more in the country as well. You have to have back-up.”

For Saqlain – and indeed any spinner – the art of bowling is more than just the physical action.

He said: “When I bowl, I don’t think about being a spin bowler.

“Yes I am a spin bowler, but I think about being an attacking bowler.

“I need to take wickets and I need to create pressure. I picked up so many things from the fast bowlers: from Wasim Akram, the aggression ; from Imran Khan, the belief and body language; Waquar Youis, the attack; Warnie (Shane Warne), the preparation and the tactics.

“I picked up things from the fast bowlers as well as the spinners.

“It is not just running up and chucking the ball.

“You need to work on your mind as well, you need to know what the batsman is thinking about. You need to read his mind and body language. You need to read the situations and conditions. There is a lot to bowling.”

Go to lashings.co.uk

FACT FILE: Saqlain Mushtaq

Age 37

Spent eight seasons at Surrey

Played 49 tests for Pakistan, taking 208 wickets at an average of 29.83

Played 169 ODIs, taking 288 wickets (including two hattricks) at an average of 21.78

Fastest bowler to 100 ODI wickets

Cricket World Cup runner up in 1999

Credited with inventing the game-changing ‘doosra’ which spins away from the batsman but is delivered like a regular off-break (which normally spins towards the batsman)

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