Shane Warne is my hero and Mushtaq Ahmed my teacher: Yasir Shah

Yasir Shah of Pakistan celebrates taking the wicket of Jonny Bairstow of England during day two of the 1st Investec Test match between England and Pakistan at Lords Cricket Ground on July 15, 2016, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)

Leg-spinner from Pakistan, Yasir Shah made a brilliant comeback into the side being the player of the match winner in his comeback Test match against England at Lords. Speaking with, Yasir discussed the disappointment of missing international cricket due to a drug-related ban, the bowling partnership with Mohammad Amir, and his assessment of Pakistan’s chances in the series.

Do they clearly label their respective medications now? he said, “You learn from your mistakes, however, big or small they are. My wife has recently arrived in the United Kingdom and the first thing I said to her was to keep her medication far away from my medication.”


He said that he was disappointed after being banned and he missed being a part of the Pakistan team. “I’m not a good watcher of cricket and I got annoyed with the fact that I was not part of the team. It was frustrating missing matches due to a mistake.”

“I also took the opportunity to perform Umrah and spend quality time with my family, something that you do not always get the chance to do in the hectic environment of professional cricket. I also used the opportunity to rest a few aches and pains. As far as preparation for the England series goes, I don’t think it affected me too much as I worked on my training, fitness and also my all-round game and practiced a lot,” the leg-spinner added.

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When asked if whether he was under-cooked as a bowler going into the England series, he said that he has got ample preparation coming into England couple of weeks earlier. “It’s ample preparation for me. It’s more than enough. Ahead of the Somerset match, we arrived in England a couple of weeks early to acclimatise and prepare; that was very important and useful for us. We used that time very well and practiced hard and it was excellent preparation.”

He also said that the match against Somerset ahead of the first Test was a confidence booster. “At first, the ball wasn’t coming out of my hand very well, largely due to it being a different type of ball used in England, but after a few overs I settled into a rhythm and the grip became a lot better. It was a useful match for me for several reasons.”

Adding more about the difference in balls used in England and back at Pakistan, he said, “The wickets in England are a lot different to what I am used to in Asia. I actually believe that it’s better to bowl in English conditions for a leg-spinner than it is in Asia. For example, in UAE, you have to drive the ball and really push it to extract turn, and despite all that effort the bounce is still very low. In England, the wickets don’t always spin as much but you have the very important factor of extra bounce and carry, which is crucial and a great help for a leg-spinner.”

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Speaking about having Mushtaq Ahmed as one of the coaches, he said that it is a great advantage and his experience in playing in all the conditions really help him. “He has been a very important factor in my development as a bowler, and his knowledge of English wickets and conditions will be very important for me. Mushtaq played an important role with his advice and inside information last time around in UAE against England, and his inside knowledge of the England batsmen will once again be vital.”

The 30-year old is also working on a different type of googly. “I’ve been working hard on a different type of googly, one that is disguised, turns more and will be difficult for the batsmen to read. It’s a delivery that I have worked on a lot and have been spending a lot of time with Mushtaq Ahmed on perfecting. In the past, my googly wasn’t always successful, but I believe that the hard work that has been put into perfecting this delivery will really pay off.”

Yasir said that the Aussie legend Shane Warne is his hero and the team’s bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed is his teacher. “He’s my hero and Mushtaq Ahmed is my teacher; to have the opportunity to work with and speak to both of them is just fantastic for me. When I am working with both of them, it’s like I’m in a dream, it’s just awesome.”

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Speaking about bowling in partnerships with Mohammad Amir, he said that this is the first international match he is playing with Amir. “He’s an excellent bowler, a wicket-taking bowler who keeps the batsmen on his toes because he can swing the ball both ways. It’s a huge advantage for me to have a bowler of the caliber of Amir on the same team. It’s important that we work together as partnerships, whoever is bowling. We need to back each other up and support each other, but yes I’m definitely looking forward to bowling with Amir.”

He believes that Pakistan can really test and beat England, who are really strong at home. “I go into this series believing that Pakistan can win it. We have prepared very well, we feel that we are ready and there is a lot of self-belief and confidence in a very settled squad. The wickets in England support good cricket and I believe that we have the players who can perform in English conditions. Our batsmen have hit good form in the warm-up matches and our bowlers have also bowled well. If our batsmen put runs on the board, then it’s down to us bowlers to support them. I’m sure it will be a very exciting and hard-fought series,” he signed-off.