Spin is likely to be the key factor in the upcoming series between Pakistan and England and has also been billed as a contest between Graeme Swann and Saeed Ajmal.
The slow and turning pitches in the UAE provide for the perfect setting as both spinners set out to prove who’s the world’s best. Ajmal has already claimed to have a ‘mystery ball’ up his sleeve and Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq has declared UAE conditions to favour his ‘home’ side.
However, Swann took a dig at Ajmal, saying the off-spinner’s new variant is nothing but a failed ploy to make the England batsmen think.
“I must confess to having a chuckle when I heard about Ajmal claiming to have a new mystery ball,” Swann wrote in The Sun. “I think he has been doing a Shane Warne, who always said before each Ashes series that he had invented a new delivery called the zooter or hooter or whatever.
“For the first three Tests, he had England batsmen trying to work out how to play the new ball. By the time they realised it was exactly the same, it was too late. So when I saw Ajmal, I told him, ‘You have only one new ball. I have three or four’.”
Swann said that he was not intrigued by Ajmal’s latest variant but praised the Pakistani after an impressive performance helped his team remain unbeaten in Tests and One-Day International series in 2011.
“I am not sure what his new delivery is meant to do – maybe stop on the pitch and make a cup of tea. Let’s face it, there are only two ways a ball can go if it does not go straight on – left or right. Ajmal has a bit of a character and he is a fine bowler and a good bloke. He bowled really well in England in 2010 and caused some of our lads a few problems, particularly the tail-enders.”
Swann said England were looking to maintain their number one rank in Tests but remained wary of Pakistan’s ability. “Now we are the top Test side, we want to stay at the top.
“But Pakistan will be very dangerous. They’re used to the conditions, they have played at the stadium and we have not even practised there yet.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2012.
More in SportsBoxing: Khan gives reasons for WBA rematch decision