LONDON: England are seeking more regular help for their spinners after recruiting former Pakistan bowler Saqlain Mushtaq for the Old Trafford Test which starts on Friday.
Saqlain linked up with England for practice in Manchester today and will work with spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, as well as advising batsmen how to play Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah.
England have not had a permanent spin coach since Mushtaq Ahmed returned to Pakistan at the start of 2014 and they are keen to address the situation. It is thought a coach will join the squad for the winter tours of India and Bangladesh, where spin will be prominent.
Saqlain is one of the contenders for the role while Daniel Vettori, the former New Zealand left-arm spinner, recently spent time with the England Performance Programme at a training camp in Dubai. Robert Croft, who played 21 Tests, was recruited for a part of last winter’s tour of South Africa.
Mushtaq Ahmed worked closely with Graeme Swann during his time with England, helping Swann become one of the world’s best spinners. England know Moeen needs mentoring, especially as he has struggled to make an impression with the ball since England regained the Ashes last summer.
Rashid has played only three Tests, against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates last autumn, but is back in the squad for Old Trafford as England look to square the Investec Series, which Pakistan lead 1-0. Former England pace bowler Andrew Caddick will spend a day with the team before the Third Test at Edgbaston, which starts on August 3.
Caddick has been invited for the training session on August 1, in which he will observe the session and work alongside England’s fast bowlers.
Caddick took 234 wickets in 62 Tests and was part of an effective new-ball combination with Darren Gough under the captaincy of Nasser Hussain. Meanwhile, England head selector James Whitaker is ready to clarify the role of his panel next week when he names the squad for the Third Test. Whitaker and fellow selectors Angus Fraser and Mick Newell were criticised for leaving Jimmy Anderson out for the First Test at Lord’s, even though the paceman had declared himself fit to play.
Both captain Alastair Cook and coach Trevor Bayliss were ready to take Anderson at his word but were overruled by the selectors, who were acting on medical advice. Whitaker is understood to be willing to discuss the matter publicly, possibly after the Second Test. If he does so, he is likely to combine it with naming the squad for the Third Test at Edgbaston.
If Whitaker does speak, the ECB will hope for better results than in February 2014, when he gave an uncertain interview about Kevin Pietersen’s exclusion after the 2013-14 Ashes series. England managing director Andrew Strauss is likely to assess the way squads are chosen at the end of the summer.