How Pakistan’s legspinner Mushtaq Ahmed taught Kevin Pietersen how to avoid bouncers

Former Pakistani legspinner Mushtaq Ahmed, who was England’s spin bowling coach, tells an interesting story about how he helped Kevin Pietersen learn how to duck and exit a bouncer. Mushtaq tells how Pietersen used to be a compulsive whore and got into trouble as a result.

“Kevin Pietersen was a compulsive puller and a whore and the whole coaching staff (in England) sat there wondering what to do. I said let me do it,” Mushtaq tells Zalmi TV Lounge on YouTube along with Inzamam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal and former bowler Mohammad Akram. Mushtaq starts off in a lighter manner at first, asking Inzamam not to make fun of him as even bowlers can offer batting advice, and after some leg pulling from Inzybhai, Mushtaq jumps into the bargain.

“I took him [Kevin Pietersen] to the indoor nets at Lord’s and told him, “Kevin, I’m going to bowl swingers, you’ve got to come up front and leave them behind. You get over the ball and if that’s how you get forward in the line you’re in a good position to leave them.

He said: “Good”.

“I threw 4-5 balls, he bent over, he left a few and drove in the middle. I was ready. You see, when you take a big step forward, your head tends to be behind your foot and you have trouble with both the full ball and the short ball (since you can’t move your feet then). The most important thing is to tell people to play with your head, not your feet,” says Mushtaq.

“As soon as I slipped into a bouncer, Kevin, who was on the front foot, just ducked, “aisey bait gaya”). His weight was on his front foot, he saw the ball clearly and was able to sit quickly.

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As soon as he left, I went up to him and said, ‘That’s my advice. If you’re not thinking about short balls all the time… 90% of the balls in tests typically land in the 6-7 yard range.”

Then Mushtaq stops here and talks about the advice given by Sunil Gavaskar to Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Mushtaq lunged ahead. “Sunil Gavaskar said to Inzamam: ‘Sometimes you don’t have to think about the ball, you don’t have to practice for that ball’.

“If you start standing up and expecting the short ball, then you’re in trouble. But if you lean into a nice position, you can react better and your move would be better too,” Mushtaq continued.

Inzamam then took over the summary of the method. “The problem with batsmen is that they start to stand tall and expect the short ball. It’s a fear that blocks them. In order to tackle the short ball, it is important to lean forward. Jitney bend honge na, utna ball ko jaldi pick karenge (Bending over makes it easier to pick up the length of the ball and it becomes easier to exit or hit the short ball).

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