DateLine: 24th October 2008
Mushtaq Ahmed was named as the new England spin bowling coach by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) here on Thursday.
The 38-year-old former Pakistan leg-spinner, a key figure in Sussex's three County Championship winning teams, will work on a consultancy basis with the spinners in England's Test and One-Day squads as well as promising up-and-coming slow bowlers.
An ECB statement said Mushtaq, who recently announced his retirement from the first-class game because of a persistent knee injury, would be severing all ties with the 'rebel' Indian Cricket League.
"It's critical we nurture and develop the next generation of England spin bowlers using the expertise and knowledge of former players such as Mushtaq," said ECB managing director Hugh Morris, himself a former England batsman.
"Spin has been integral to the success of the world's best cricket teams and we are keen to ensure that there is a constant flow of spin-bowling talent into the England set-up."
Legendary England spin bowler Derek Underwood, who recently began his term of office as President of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the owners of London's Lord's Cricket Ground, has been among those voicing concerns about the depth of English spin bowling.
And there are others who argue that left-armer Monty Panesar owes his place as the sole specialist spinner in England's current Test side as much because of the lack of alternatives as the Northamptonshire bowler's own quality.
But David Parsons, the man whom Mushtaq in effect replaces, has no doubt that the new addition to England's coaching staff can help make spin an increasingly important part of Kevin Pietersen's attack.
"We are very excited that a bowler of Mushtaq's standing within the game has decided to join our team of specialist coaches based at the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough (central England)," said Parsons, now the ECB's performance director.
"He will have a role to play at all levels of the game. His primary task will be to mentor our leading spin bowlers in the Test, One-Day and Performance squads but we also believe he can help encourage youngsters at the grass roots of the game to take up and learn the art of spin-bowling.
Mushtaq played 52 Tests, taking 185 wickets at just over 32 apiece, and 144 One-Day Internationals for Pakistan and was a member of Pakistan's World Cup winning team in 1992.
In the course of a 21-year career, he took 1,407 first-class wickets.
He was also one of the driving forces behind Sussex's success during his six years with the south coast side - taking 598 wickets in all competitions and playing a major role in the team's only three County Championship title-winning teams of 2003, 2006 and 2007.
(Article: Copyright © 2008 AFP)