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Saqlain: Talent in WI spinners

West Indies off-spinner Shane Shillingford (left) in discussion with former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq who is conducting a clinic at the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre.  (Picture courtesy WICB Media.)

Wed, September 11, 2013 - 12:03 AM

Former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq said he was honoured to be invited to the Caribbean to train the current generation of West Indies spinners over the next three weeks.

Mushtaq accepted an invitation from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and has been sharing his wisdom and understanding with current and emerging spinners at the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre, which is based on the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

“It is a great honour for me because West Indies has such a great history in the game,” he told WICB Media.

“Many legends of the game have come from West Indies. There [are] many cricketing knights, including Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Vivian Richards, and there is also one of my great rivals, Brian Lara, so I am very excited about this opportunity.

“When (West Indies coach) Ottis Gibson called, I was more than happy to come to the Caribbean and share what I know with the young players. This is also a beautiful place to be with warm, friendly people.”

The crop of bowlers benefiting from Saqlain’s knowledge includes fellow off-spinner Shane Shillingford, left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul and leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo.

Saqlain said he was impressed with the players’ passion for the game, the deep interest in the art of spin bowling and their willingness to learn.

“We are working to improve the spin bowling reserves and I have seen a number of young players and a few that have played already for West Indies,” he said.

“There is a lot potential and there are all very talented and there is a lot of passion about the game – and my role is to make them more technically sound and tactically aware.

“We have also had discussions about how fit the spinner needs to be, how flexible the spinner needs to be, how they should take care of their body, in particular, their fingers.

He hailed legendary fellow off-spinner Lance Gibbs, the first spinner to capture 300 Test wickets, and noted the achievements of pioneers such as Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine, whose names have been immortalized with the naming of the southern end of the 3Ws Oval.

“The history is there, but looking at this group of players, they have the potential, but they have to work more and hard on perfecting their craft,” Saqlain said.

“When I came into the Pakistan team, I had a number of role models, and this spin bowling clinic will help [WI spinners] to improve and learn a few new things.”

Saqlain, 36, played 49 Tests and 169 One-Day Internationals for Pakistan between 1995 and 2004. (EZS)

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