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  1. #1
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    It’s a matter of when, not if, Pakistan produces a left-arm wrist-spinner

    Pakistan have been at the centre of innovation in cricket. From reverse swing, to the doosra to the reverse sweep, it was Pakistan who led the way. Yet they have failed to produce a left arm wristspinner which is made all the more surprising when you consider the assets they have at their disposal. Nevertheless, all the signs point to it being a matter of when, not if, Pakistan debuts a left arm wristspinner.

    Why are left-arm wristspinners so rare?

    The standard answer to this question is usually something along the lines of: (i) wristspin is a difficult art so few take it up and (ii) left arm bowlers, of any variety, are in a minority. It stands to reason therefore that left arm wristspinners, a combination of (i) and (ii), are even rarer.

    Push a little more and you might be told it is to do with the fact that the majority of batsmen are right handed. The stock ball of a left-arm wristspinner turns into the right-hander and because it is generally easier to play spin when this is the case there is little demand for left-arm wristspinners.

    Whatever the case may be, in the entire history of the game there has only been 12 out-and-out specialist left-arm wristspinners. To put that in perspective, left-arm wristspinners account for less than 2% of all balls ever bowled by spinners in international cricket.

    Rising Tide?

    Wristpin has undergone something of a resurgence in recent years, particularly in the shorter formats. It has been said a rising tide lifts all boats and that has certainly been the case here, with the general rise in wristspin leading to a welcome increase in the number of left-arm wristspin bowlers across the sport.

    Left-arm wristspinners have gone from a near extinct species (with there being long periods without one operating on the international scene) to becoming an increasingly common sight in world cricket; in the last two years alone there have been three specialists making their international debuts: Shamsi (2016), Sanadakan (2017) and Kuldeep (2017). That may not sound much but it is a significant number given how long it took for the world to produce the first nine!

    The increase hasn’t been limited to the international scene with the likes of Kabir Khan, Shivil Kaushik and Liam Bowe playing domestic cricket in their respective countries. Even the Associates have got involved with Michael Rippon debuting for the Netherlands in 2013.

    The Pakistan Mystery

    Given all this, it is surprising to learn Pakistan are yet to debut a left arm wristspinner. It’s particularly surprising when one considers that the usual reasons given to explain the lack of left-arm wristspinners don’t seem to apply to Pakistan.

    First, there are plenty of legspinners playing domestic cricket in Pakistan currently; in addition to national team regulars Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan, Pakistan have the likes of Usama Mir and Mohammed Irfan in their domestic ranks.

    Second, the “Wasim Akram” effect has meant there are an abundance of left arm bowlers, of every variety, in Pakistan’s cricket scene. Indeed whilst the rest of the world struggles to produce left arm bowlers of any kind, Pakistan has a seemingly endless supply chain. So much so, it seems a domestic side isn’t complete in Pakistan without at least one left arm seamer and finger spinner in the playing XI!

    Third, Pakistan have produced some of the finest spinners the world has ever seen, not least because Pakistan has a long history of innovation when it comes to spin. The likes of Abdul Qadir, Saqlain Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saeed Ajmal all made a living out of making opposition batsmen look foolish at a moment’s notice with their variations.

    Despite all of this, there isn’t a single left arm wristspinner playing in Pakistan’s domestic circuit. Once again Pakistan showcases its ability to confound its fans!

    Asia playing Catch-Up?

    The lack of left arm wristspinners is by no means unique to Pakistan. In fact, this is an area where the entire subcontinent has somewhat surprisingly lagged behind. If you were to look at the distribution of the 12 specialist left-arm wristspinners to have played the game at the highest level, you may be surprised to learn that Australia lead the way with five.

    Indeed, Asia has only just got around to selecting its first two; Sri Lanka the first to get there in 2016, with India following in 2017. Set in this context, it is clear the subcontinent has been the main beneficiary of the current resurgence in left-arm wristspin. This points to Pakistan being next.

    A False Dawn?

    Pakistan have in fact previously flirted with the idea of a left-arm wristspinner in Ahsan Jamil Baig. The initial signs looked good. So much so you would be forgiven for thinking the PCB were grooming him for the national side and his national debut would be the result of long-term planning by the board. Perish the thought!

    Baig was part of Pakistan’s Under-15 side and he went on to be the youngster member named in the Pakistan U19 Squad for the World Cup in 2008. Whilst his then captain Imad Wasim chose not to make use of his services, Baig was undeterred and represented Pakistan U21 two years later at the South Asian Games. He picked up three wickets (including Thisara Perera) in four games at an average of 27.66 and S/R of 30. Perhaps most pleasingly of all for a young legspinner, he went for less than 6 an over. The future looked bright.

    And then… nothing.

    In the space of eight years, he has played a grand total of four List A matches and a solitary T20. He may have made his first class debut in 2007, a day after turning 15, but he had to wait until 2016, some nine years later, to play his second. He hasn’t played any domestic cricket since.

    Lessons learnt?

    There may not be any left arm wristspinners playing senior domestic cricket in Pakistan but, whether by design or fortune, there is a promising trend in Pakistan’s age-group cricket; four left arm wristspinners featured in January’s U-19 One Day Tournament. They are:

    • Ishfaq Ahmed (15 y/o): 5 matches, 13 wickets @ 6.77 average and 18.46 s/r with an economy rate of 2.2.
    • Sharjeel Umar (16 y/o): 6 matches, 13 wickets @ 9.62 average and 19.38 s/r, with an economy rate of 2.98.
    • Najam Naseer Kiyani (17 y/o): 4 matches, 7 wickets @ 16.57 average and 30 s/r with an economy rate of 3.31.
    • Mohammad Arsalan (15 y/o): 3 matches, 5 wickets @ 7.4 average and 27.6 s/r with an economy rate of 1.61.


    All but Arsalan are currently playing in the Inter Region U-19 One Day Tournament, with Kiyani in particular putting in consistent performances. The trend doesn’t stop there with 14 year old left-arm wristspinner Ajmal Khan also featuring in the tournament. It falls on the current management to learn from the past and take these players under their wings and develop them as future prospects.

    Fortune Favours the Prepared Mind

    This could happen a lot quicker than one might otherwise expect. How so?

    Well, Pakistan will be facing two left arm wristspinners in the Asia Cup: Sandakan and Kuldeep. They are also likely to face South Africa’s Shamsi in WC19. Sarfaraz Ahmed has said Pakistan will call up left arm wristspinners as part of their pre-tournament preparations.

    This in turn increases the likelihood of (at least one of) the players named above being brought into the fold to help the national team. Which brings us back to Ahsan Baig. After all, he seems the most likely candidate; at 25 years of age he will have matured and built up his skill levels from his junior days whilst still having his best years as a wristspinner ahead of him.

    And assuming the management is open and alert to the possibility, a good showing in the nets could be what parachutes Baig (or one of his peers) to stardom; this might sound far-fetched but it’s worth bearing in mind a certain Wasim Akram made his debut in very similar circumstances.

    At the very least, the optimist would say all the signs point to it being a matter of when not if Pakistan debuts a left arm wristspinner. The cynic, of course, would dismiss this as pure conjecture. Only time will tell who is correct but it is fair to say the management’s efforts to prepare for the challenge posed by the likes of Sandakan and Kuldeep could lead to so much more; Pakistan discovering a left arm wristspinner of its very own. In which case the world better watch out, the best may be yet to come…
    Last edited by Abdullah719; 20th August 2018 at 18:46.

  2. #2
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    This post is long enough to earn a POTW. Well done for giving your time and soul to this.

    Bhaijaan agrees with you. Its time Pakistan unleash a great left arm leg spinner.

  3. #3
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    Eoin Morgan mentioned it was difficult for England to prepare against Kuldeep as there is no left arm wristspinner in England.

    Pakistan do not have excuse. Hope they prepare well.

  4. #4
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    Watch out for a guy named Hassan Khalid...The guy can bowl legspin as good as anyone else...Will most likely see him in the Pakistan setup in 7-8 years, if he stays true to himself and the game

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baigel View Post
    Watch out for a guy named Hassan Khalid...The guy can bowl legspin as good as anyone else...Will most likely see him in the Pakistan setup in 7-8 years, if he stays true to himself and the game
    Thanks, that is really useful.

    I've just seen his youtube account, which includes him bowling in the nets with Asghar. He looks decent (his action reminds me a little bit of Sandakan).

    Interestingly he seems to be more confident with his googly than his legbreak. Good control and isn't afraid to give it a bit of flight.

    It looks like he is ~15 and was/is based in the UAE, is that (still) right? Do you have any more info?
    Last edited by mak36; 21st August 2018 at 12:12.

  6. #6
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    The issue is that left arm bowlers in Pakistan don't want to bowl spin. They want to be the next Wasim

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by InziRules View Post
    The issue is that left arm bowlers in Pakistan don't want to bowl spin. They want to be the next Wasim
    And yet Pakistan's domestic teams are filled with left-arm orthodox spinners.

    There is also at least one left arm finger spinner in every national team squad.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mak36 View Post
    Thanks, that is really useful.

    I've just seen his youtube account, which includes him bowling in the nets with Asghar. He looks decent (his action reminds me a little bit of Sandakan).

    Interestingly he seems to be more confident with his googly than his legbreak. Good control and isn't afraid to give it a bit of flight.

    It looks like he is ~15 and was/is based in the UAE, is that (still) right? Do you have any more info?
    No unfortunately no more information, but your understanding of him being comfortable with his googly more than his lebreak is true, it might be a natural variation as I myself am more comfortable with bowling a googly

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baigel View Post
    No unfortunately no more information, but your understanding of him being comfortable with his googly more than his lebreak is true, it might be a natural variation as I myself am more comfortable with bowling a googly
    Ok, thanks.

    How did you find out about him- do you know him personally?

  10. #10
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    For those interested in a video of Hassan Khalid:


  11. #11
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    By way of update, the tournament has now concluded. Find below the respective stats of each LALB bowler:
    Name:  2018-08-31.jpg
Views: 1605
Size:  91.5 KB

  12. #12
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    Ajmal Khan's bowling figures were: 2-15 (7), 4-30 (10), 3-15 (8).

    Why did he only play three matches?

    Quetta played eight in total (two rained off), so why did he miss out on three matches?

  13. #13
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    Three day tournament is underway and the following are in action:

    Najam Naseer Kiyani

    Sharjeel Umar

    Ishfaq Ahmed (part timer by the looks of it)

    Quetta's scorecard hasn't been uploaded yet so not sure if Ajmal Khan is featuring in the tournament.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mak36 View Post
    Three day tournament is underway and the following are in action:

    Najam Naseer Kiyani

    Sharjeel Umar

    Ishfaq Ahmed (part timer by the looks of it)

    Quetta's scorecard hasn't been uploaded yet so not sure if Ajmal Khan is featuring in the tournament.
    Is there any playing in quadiazam trophy?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmiri_Pak_fan View Post
    Is there any playing in quadiazam trophy?
    Not to my knowledge. As mentioned in OP, Ahsan Jamil Baig was playing a couple of years ago but seems to have disappeared.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mak36 View Post

    Quetta's scorecard hasn't been uploaded yet so not sure if Ajmal Khan is featuring in the tournament.
    By way of update, Ajmal Khan is playing in the three day tournament.

  17. #17
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    I actually think it's impossible to be an effective left arm chinaman bowler in Tests. It's much harder to bowl wrist spin accurately than finger spin. And as the OP mentioned, the stock ball goes into RHB, which is easier to play.

  18. #18
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    Good news- an update on Ahsan Jamil Baig.
    @ataullah mentioned to me in the LQ PDP thread that there was a left arm wristspinner named Ahsan playing for Lahore who was worth watching.

    When I checked the footage I was pleased to see it is the same guy I have mentioned in the OP! (sidenote: they seem to be calling him Ahsan Mirza).

    His figures today were 4-0-27-4 (one of the fielders dropped a simple catch off his bowling too). He also took an excellent diving one handed catch off his own bowling. Words won't do it justice but trust me when I say it was spectacular.

  19. #19
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    Well spotted bro. That catch was brilliant. With a bit of backing and exposure a really think Ahsan can be our Kuldeep

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mak36 View Post
    Good news- an update on Ahsan Jamil Baig.
    @ataullah mentioned to me in the LQ PDP thread that there was a left arm wristspinner named Ahsan playing for Lahore who was worth watching.

    When I checked the footage I was pleased to see it is the same guy I have mentioned in the OP! (sidenote: they seem to be calling him Ahsan Mirza).

    His figures today were 4-0-27-4 (one of the fielders dropped a simple catch off his bowling too). He also took an excellent diving one handed catch off his own bowling. Words won't do it justice but trust me when I say it was spectacular.
    Where did he played today? PDP or pcb u19?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ataullah View Post
    Well spotted bro. That catch was brilliant. With a bit of backing and exposure a really think Ahsan can be our Kuldeep
    Thanks for bringing it to my attention- I wouldn't have known he was playing in this tournament otherwise! I was actually hoping something like this might happen to him but the % seemed low. Hopefully LQ have the sense to select him for the Australia tour and he gets enough attention to be picked for PSL (by any franchise).

    One other thing I will tell you, is I have finally tracked down his stats on the PCB's website. You can only find his stats if you search for "Ahsan Jamil"- any other variation and it will come up blank. Also for some reason he is the only left arm wristspinner they have listed him as "CM" (chinaman) rather than "LALB".

    Anyway, As I mentioned in OP he last played FC in 2016. What I have since learnt is he played in a couple of other PCB tournaments since then and look at his stats:

    July 2018 Regional Inter District Senior Tournament (three day) (ie. just two months ago)

    3 matches
    81 overs
    15 maidens
    15 wickets
    18.13 average
    32.4 SR
    E/R 3.36

    March/April 2017 Patron's Trophy (three day):

    #17 highest wicket taker in the tournament
    4 matches
    112.2 overs
    18 maidens
    19 wickets
    19.63 average
    35.47 SR
    1 4wl
    2 5wl
    E/R 3.32

    These are excellent stats. When you factor in the fact left arm wristspinners have historically struggled in the longer formats, it makes them even more impressive.

    Now explain to me a few things:

    (i) why wasn't he selected for all the games in these tournaments?

    (ii) How is it be only played one match in this year's Patron's Trophy? (which isn't even FC).

    (iii) With the above stats, how did he miss out on squad selection for FC cricket? The one defence might be there is only one Karachi team in this year's QeA Trophy but even still he should have still been selected.

    (iv) For the last three years how come he has not featured in any domestic side's squad (never mind playing XI) in any format?

    After, all wristspinners of any kind are a prized commodity and a decent left arm wristspinner is like gold-dust, especially in the shorter format. If I can see the way the tide is going, why can't paid "qualified" coaches work it out? Incompetence or malice?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmiri_Pak_fan View Post
    Where did he played today? PDP or pcb u19?
    He is playing in Lahore Qalandar's PDP, representing Lahore.

    See above post for his recent performances in PCB tournaments (other than domestic cricket).

  23. #23
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by mak36 View Post



    This is an excellent news. Ahsan has been severely mistreated for years at domestic level. He needs a long rope not few matches. Was never given consistent opportunities for Khi.


    Thanks for sharing. May Allah bless you.


    Mujhay hai Hukm e Azaa-n

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  26. #26
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    pakistan need to show confidence in wrist spinners. They can be very effective against non asian Teams.

  27. #27
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    Ahsan Mirza worked with Brad Hogg yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Tournament; I hope he aborbed everything like a sponge as there won't be a better teacher.

  28. #28
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    By way of update, the three day tournament has now concluded. Find below the respective stats of each LALB bowler (I have excluded Ishfaq Ahmed as he is a part timer).

    It looks as though Najam Naseer Kiyani is the one to watch (performed well in both formats):

    Name:  2018-10-08 (2).jpg
Views: 279
Size:  66.2 KB

  29. #29
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    @Abdullah719 if you are able to find any footage of Najam Naseer Kiyani (or indeed any of the other LALBs) please upload .

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mak36 View Post
    @Abdullah719 if you are able to find any footage of Najam Naseer Kiyani (or indeed any of the other LALBs) please upload .
    Quick YouTube search resulted in this.



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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post
    Quick YouTube search resulted in this.

    Slight problem. Isn't he bowling finger spin?

  32. #32
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