Young aspiring cricketers from Dubai were given a masterclass by none other than Saqlain Mushtaq, with the former Pakistan spin ace overseeing a seven-day coaching camp at the Kings’ Cricket Academy in Al Barsha.
It was an opportunity for the youngsters to learn from the very best in spin bowling, with Saqlain bringing a wealth of experience that has seen the Pakistan man undertake coaching stints with England, Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies.
His most recent coaching stint with the England cricket team ended with a World Cup title, won in the most dramatic fashion at Lord’s, along with a drawn Ashes series against Australia. Hence, there was plenty for the starlets at the Kings’ Cricket Academy to be inspired by, with the 42-year-old’s approachable and affable personality making it a memorable masterclass.
While the young cricketers were no doubt left enthralled after getting to learn closely from a coach of Saqlain’s stature, the legend himself took away many lessons from his interaction with the kids. For him, coaching is very much a two-way street where both parties can better themselves with the right mindset and application.
“In coaching, working with the youngsters at the junior level or internationals at the highest level, I enjoy every minute and every session,” the spin ace told Sport360.
“As a coach, you learn everyday while working with various individuals. You have to keep learning. If you don’t learn and you think you already know everything, you can’t really enjoy it and grow further.
“When I am coaching, sometimes a little kid gives me some ideas to think about. Sometimes, they also throw up a very good question which gets me thinking and makes me learn more as a coach.”
While his presence itself was enough to get the youngsters going, valuable lessons were imparted over the course of a week from a man who has been credited with transforming the likes of Saeed Ajmal and Moeen Ali..
“We couldn’t have asked for a better mentor for the youngsters here than the legend himself,” Kings’ Cricket Academy coach Ash Mohammed said.
“To see him up close, coaching the kids in such a methodical and precise manner, is a valuable lesson for me and fellow coach Russell as well.
“He knows exactly how to identify any shortcomings or technical flaws in someone’s bowling action, and his inputs on how much flight to give to a ball, how to read a batsman’s mind, they have all been incredible.”
The Pakistan legend, who has a staggering 496 international wickets to his name, was left impressed by the quality of the youngsters at the academy with 16-year-old Hamad Arshad, in particular, catching his eye.
“I have seen some fine talents in the seven days I have been here and I can most definitely say that the future of UAE cricket is very bright if these youngsters continue to develop at the same rate,” Saqlain stated.
“I was impressed by Hamad, who has the necessary tools to develop into a fine off-spinner with his classical action. I am sure he will go a long way with the kind of coaching he is already getting here at the academy.”
The spin ace has promised to return to the academy in the future as he bids goodbye to the UAE for now, but the masterclass he conducted is bound to have a lasting impression on the young minds of the kids at the Kings’ Cricket Academy.
Know more about Sport360 Application