LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has appointed former Test leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed as national team’s new bowling coach after the World Cup winner lost the role for England. “The 43-year-old signed a two-year contract with immediate effect,” said a spokesman for the PCB on Monday. Mushtaq, who took 185 wickets in 52 Tests, had coached England for six years until a reshuffle, following the 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia, by new head coach Peter Moores saw him replaced by Peter Such. This is Mushtaq’s second stint with Pakistan - he had earlier served as bowling consultant during home series against England and India between 2005 and 2006. The PCB is also expected soon to appoint former Zimbabwean opener Grant Flower as their batting coach, and fellow Zimbabwean Richard Halsall as fielding and strength trainer.
“Acting on the recommendation of the coach selection committee, PCB chairman Mr Najam Sethi has appointed former Pakistan leg-spinner Mushtaq as the national spin bowling coach with immediate effect. Mushtaq has signed the contract with the PCB and has taken charge of his position.” The spokesman added former off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq was also short-listed for the job, but lost out to Mushtaq. Mushtaq joins former international teammate Waqar Younis, who was appointed head coach last week, in the national set-up. Talking to media, Mushtaq said that his main task would be to help develop spinners and play a role in forming a strong support team. “This Pakistan team has a lot of potential which needs to be realised by the time the World Cup is held next year,” he said.
Mushtaq was one of the players implicated in the Justice Qayyum Commission report in 2000, after which he was fined Rs.300,000. The Commission had recommended that Mushtaq be censured, kept under close watch and not be given any office of responsibility (selection or captaincy) in the team or in the board. The diminutive spinner played a key role in Pakistan’s World Cup victory in 1992 in tandem with Wasim Akram. Cast out from the national team later on in his career, he turned his attention to English county cricket where he took more than 100 wickets for Sussex for five successive seasons and helped them win the championship in 2003, 2006 and 2007. Mushtaq’s coaching tenure with the England team coincided with the rise of Graeme Swann, one of the country’s best ever spinners who abruptly retired partway through the 2013-2014 Ashes won 5-0 by Australia.
Mushtaq said he would do his best to serve Pakistan spinners and would also help batsmen learn how to counter rival spinners. “It’s a big big honour for me and I will do my best.” Reacting to criticism in some quarters over his hiring, Mushtaq said: “I am surprised why people are against my appointment. I had been coach before and then served England so there were no problems before, why now? There is no concern shown by the PCB at all and I am excited to work with my own country,” Mushtaq said. “I always wanted to work with Pakistan and if a country like England can support me, then why not my own country. England is a country that is very sensitive about match-fixing and they had utilised my services, then how come the critics in Pakistan are raising a finger on me.”
In 2010 the-then International Cricket Council (ICC) chief Haroon Lorgat revealed to The Guardian, a British newspaper, that he had warned the England Cricket Board to perform due diligence before appointing Mushtaq. Mushtaq last played for Pakistan in 2003 but extended his county career and retired from first-class cricket in 2008. He also played 144 ODIs, taking 161 one-day wickets in 14-year international career.
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