New Delhi: A master craftsman during his playing days, former Pakistan leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed feels England's "Graeme Swann is one of the most intelligent bowlers" in international cricket right now.
"Graeme Swann is one of the most intelligent bowlers that I have worked with. You tell him something and he has an amazing grasping power. Even with Monty (Panesar), I have had lengthy and fruitful discussions on various aspects of spin bowling," Mushtaq, who is in town as Delhi Daredevils spin bowling consultant, said.
The 43-year-old spin bowling coach of the England cricket team played a major role in plotting India's downfall in Test series but he credits it to the players.
"First, you need to win over the confidence of players. The next part is talking straight which the English players respect. I told Graeme and Monty to work on their strengths than waste time thinking about the weaknesses of Indian players. Remember, one good ball doesn't necessarily get you a wicket but a good over does," explained Mushtaq.
The man who has 185 Test and 161 ODI wickets will reminds that not only did he work with spinners but also had sessions with Kevin Pietersen on how to play spin bowling.
"KP is a team player. I discussed a lot about how to tackle Indian spinners before the Mumbai Test match and it yielded results. His commitment is fantastic. He came for two days and even with an injured leg gave throwdowns to that little kid (Unmukt)," Mushtaq said.
Asked about the difference between Pragyan Ojha-R Ashwin duo from Swann and Panesar, he explained,"I guess they (Ojha-Ashwin) erred a bit on varying the pace of their deliveries through the air. Their rotation on deliveries was slow and our bowlers kept it a bit fast.
"We read the pitches and would tell them whether to bowl at 55 mph, 56 or 57 mph. For our batsmen,even if they made a mistake, they could recover due to slow nature."
Ask him about his role in the Daredevils set-up, he said, "Coaching is all about man-management. I believe my job is to be a bridge between head coach (Eric Simons) and the players. There are a lot of players who have a language barrier. Even I faced it during my early playing days. I would ideally like to communicate to the younger boys what Eric thinks provided they don't fully understand."
Mushtaq believes that in a player-coach relationship, it is important to be a role-model.
"I understood how important it is to be a fit coach. If I can't do what I tell my student to do, he would never respect me. If I tell Monty to bowl 20 overs at a stretch, I have to have an equally good work ethic so that my player listens to me."
For him, Daredevils' "environment has been fantastic." "Even after we lost three matches, the owners told the players to relax and enjoy the game. That is something phenomenal."
Mushtaq feels that injuries to key players like Pietersen, Jesse Ryder and also bowlers like Umesh Yadav, Ashish Nehra coming back from injuries has been one of the prominent reasons for the team's hat-trick of losses.
"Irrespective of how big a player you are, it is always difficult when you come back from injuries and deliver straightaway. But we have a fantastic bunch of boys who are willing to give more than 100 per cent for the Daredevils."