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Mushtaq tells Pakistan to stick with Butt and Waqar

Sports Desk |
Update: 2010-07-27 18:27:44
Mushtaq tells Pakistan to stick with Butt and Waqar

NOTTINGHAM: Mushtaq Ahmed has urged Pakistan to persist with the combination of captain Salman Butt and coach Waqar Younis.

Former Pakistan leg-spinner Mushtaq, now England`s spin bowling coach, will find himself on the opposite side to his compatriots when a four-Test series gets underway at Trent Bridge here on Thursday

But he insists his advice is heartfelt nonetheless.

Butt jumped into what has long been the hottest of hotseats when he became Pakistan`s latest captain at Headingley last week.

However, the opening batsman promptly led Pakistan to a first Test victory over Australia in 15 years as Pakistan upset the odds to win by three wickets.

Mushtaq, who played alongside fast bowling star Waqar in the Pakistan team of the 1990s, said: "Salman is lucky. He has Waqar Younis as coach.

"It is very important for a young captain to have a very good, mature coach.

"Personally, I think this is a good combination."

Mushtaq, who starred in the Sussex side that won three County Championship titles in 2003, 2006 and 2007, added: "Maybe it will take some time.

"A young captain has to make his mistakes sometimes, and that`s why the coach will play a huge role.

"But overall, as long as they both have a freedom, I think it can work."

Pakistan have been unable to play matches at home since an armed attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March last year and Mushtaq believes this is a key factor in the side`s erratic form.

"Naturally, they will struggle -- for consistency -- because they do not have that home advantage," he said.

"Just imagine how much it must hurt -- that no team wants to come to my country. That really hurts.

"You are always away from your family, hardly spending any time in Pakistan.

"That is hard. It reminds you, and you think, `What is going on?`"

But in the absence of any international cricket at home, former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq believes playing in England is the next best option for the team.

Saqlain, credited with pioneering the `doosra` (a ball that turns the opposite way to a conventional off-break) during a 49-Test career that yielded 208 wickets, helped Surrey win a trio of County Championship titles around the turn of the century and knows England well.

"It shouldn`t be a long-term solution -- we need to play at home," Saqlain said. "If we`re not playing in Pakistan it will be a big loss and our grassroots level will suffer.

"But if they`re playing on a neutral venue, England is an excellent place. Pakistan players love playing in England.

"There is a big Pakistani community and they really lift us. Also, if the weather is good, pitches are good to bat on, you can reverse the ball and there is a bit of spin.

"If the weather is good the conditions suit us. There are a lot of Pakistan players who play overseas in England for that reason."

BDST: 1457 HRS, JULY 28, 2010

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