SYDNEY - While former skipper Wasim Akram is not worried about Mohammad Amir’s return ahead of Pakistan’s first Test against England; he is unsure how the batsmen will cope during the upcoming series.
The 50-year-old believes England’s pace attack will get plenty of swing during the four-game Test series that commences at Lord’s on Thursday, and is hoping Pakistan’s top order will be able to adjust quickly to the swinging ball.
“It is Pakistan’s batting that I’m worried about, even with James Anderson out of the first Test,” he said on Sunday. “Any player with a back-foot technique, or who is neither forward nor back, will struggle against these [England] bowlers in these conditions.”
On the contrary, Pakistan’s pace attack is likely to feature Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, and Yasir Shah, and Wasim expects the bowlers to cause England batsman Gary Ballance some problems at the top of the batting order.
“From what I have seen of Gary Balance, he is mainly a back-foot player,” he said. “I would expect Pakistan’s bowlers to pitch the ball up and take it away from him, posting three slips and a gully, while keeping open point, mid-off and extra cover to encourage the drive. That way you have a chance of him nicking off,” he added. Revealing the tricks of the trade, Wasim said the national team’s bowlers can get a lot of swing in England, provided they do their homework on the opposing team.
“England is a great place to use the width of the crease against left-handers. Start off close to the stumps, and then once in a while go wide,” he said. “I hope Pakistan have done their homework because the new ball swings a lot more in England, and can reverse more too.”
Wasim added that he hopes spinner Yasir Shah to be able to hold an end, while fast-bowlers can rotate at the other end to keep the England batsmen on their toes.
“The great thing about having pace and spin working together is that it does not matter so much what the pitch is doing, or whether you win the toss. You have the bases covered,” he said.
“Myself, Waqar and Shoaib Akhtar used to operate in short bursts while Saqlain Mushtaq attacked or defended. One of us was always fresh to come back,” he added. Pakistan’s current tour of England includes four Tests, five ODIs and one T20I. The first Test is scheduled to begin on July 14 at Lord’s cricket ground.