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Saqlain Mushtaq urges Pakistan to target England’s ‘fragile’ batting order ahead of first Test

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saqlain mushtaq urges pakistan to target englands fragile batting order ahead of first test

Saqlain Mushtaq understands this country’s conundrum of producing spin bowlers as well as anyone.

He was England’s spin consultant between 2016 and early 2019, and then drafted in specially for the triumphant World Cup campaign last summer.

On the field, Mushtaq was a world-leading off-spinner and the fastest to 250 ODI wickets but crucially, spent eight successive seasons in county cricket at Surrey and two seasons playing club cricket.

Saqlain Mushtaq says England struggle to produce spinners due to a reliance on fast bowlers

Saqlain Mushtaq says England struggle to produce spinners due to a reliance on fast bowlers

Saqlain Mushtaq says England struggle to produce spinners due to a reliance on fast bowlers

Mushtaq was a star spinner for Pakistan and spent eight seasons in county cricket at Surrey

Mushtaq was a star spinner for Pakistan and spent eight seasons in county cricket at Surrey

Mushtaq was a star spinner for Pakistan and spent eight seasons in county cricket at Surrey

Ahead of Pakistan’s three Tests against England, the 43-year-old gives an insight into why this country struggles to produce an influx of spinners.

‘One reason is the weather, and number two is everybody relies on fast bowling,’ he tells Sportsmail.

‘Youngsters look up to their heroes like James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Anderson is the biggest mega star in the country, everybody looks up to him. And then Ben Stokes is a super-duper hero in the country, and he is a fast bowler as well.

‘So there is no spinner who is seen as a hero. There are a few good spinners in the pipeline, but the weather and utilisation of spinners in county cricket and club cricket isn’t there.

He has worked with England as spin consultant in two spells and understands their difficulties

He has worked with England as spin consultant in two spells and understands their difficulties

He has worked with England as spin consultant in two spells and understands their difficulties

He said England's 'heroes' are fast bowlers like James Anderson (left) and Stuart Broad (centre)

He said England's 'heroes' are fast bowlers like James Anderson (left) and Stuart Broad (centre)

He said England’s ‘heroes’ are fast bowlers like James Anderson (left) and Stuart Broad (centre)

‘The captains and coaches all heavily rely on the fast bowlers. In England, for the number of overs bowled by fast bowlers and spinners, the percentage for spinners is very low.

‘But they have a few promising spinners in the country like Dom Bess, Jack Leach, Amar Virdi – they are in the pipeline.’

On the back of his success with the England set-up, Mushtaq landed his latest role as Pakistan’s head of international player development in their high performance centre in May.

The position sees Mushtaq work from a centre in Lahore to help develop Pakistan’s next generation of cricketers, or as he says, ‘producing world class players who can dominate the world’.

He has urged his Pakistan team to target England's 'fragile' batting order in their first Test

He has urged his Pakistan team to target England's 'fragile' batting order in their first Test

He has urged his Pakistan team to target England’s ‘fragile’ batting order in their first Test 

With the first Test against England starting at Old Trafford on Wednesday, the former Surrey player has a clear assessment for how Pakistan can triumph in this series – target the ‘fragile’ batting order.

‘England are very tough opponents at home,’ he says. ‘They played very well against Australia last summer.

‘They have bit of an issue with the batting, no one is consistently performing in the top order. They are a little fragile in the middle as well, but they are outstanding at home.

‘For Pakistan to beat England, they need to play outstanding cricket in all formats – batting, bowling and obviously in the field as well. It won’t be easy, but it won’t be difficult too.’

Mushtaq is confident in the bowling attack – chiefly, in Shaheen Afridi. The 20-year-old shone in last year’s World Cup with figures of 6 for 35 against Bangladesh, the best figures for a Pakistan bowler in World Cup history.

And Mushtaq tips Afridi and leg-spinner Yasir Shah as the potential stars to look out for in favourable English conditions.

Mushtaq believes Pakistan are 'very talented' and backed them to play 'special' cricket

Mushtaq believes Pakistan are 'very talented' and backed them to play 'special' cricket

Mushtaq believes Pakistan are ‘very talented’ and backed them to play ‘special’ cricket  

‘Pakistan are a very talented side. When they come to England, they play some special cricket,’ he says. ‘In Test cricket, the last time they were in England they drew the series 1-1.

‘And with the weather conditions, they’re playing in August and September so the weather should be beautiful and dry. The conditions should suit Pakistan.

‘These youngsters in the bowling department are very skilful. Shaheen Shah Afridi is very promising and very lethal. On his day, he can single handily do it himself.

‘We have Yasir Shah – it was incredible the way he performed in England in the last tour. He ruled the world, fastest to 200 wickets in Test history. He is a wicket-taking bowler and can change a game in a day.

He warned England to watch out for bowler Naseem Shah who can 'change a game in day'

He warned England to watch out for bowler Naseem Shah who can 'change a game in day'

He warned England to watch out for bowler Naseem Shah who can ‘change a game in day’

Mushtaq says he is 'the luckiest person on the planet' after some memorable career highlights

Mushtaq says he is 'the luckiest person on the planet' after some memorable career highlights

Mushtaq says he is ‘the luckiest person on the planet’ after some memorable career highlights

‘The bowling unit is quite impressive. England need to be thinking differently on how to go about it with these players.’

The series is the first time Mushtaq is against this country since the World Cup glory last summer.

His role does not involve directly coaching the Pakistan first team and won’t therefore be coming over here, but he made memories last year that will stay with him forever.

He added: ‘I believe I am the luckiest person on the planet. When I was a cricketer, it was my dream to win the World Cup as a player. Unfortunately, we lost the 1999 World Cup final against Australia.

He missed out on the World Cup with Pakistan in 1999 but was part of England's coaching group ahead of their 2019 triumph

He missed out on the World Cup with Pakistan in 1999 but was part of England's coaching group ahead of their 2019 triumph

He missed out on the World Cup with Pakistan in 1999 but was part of England’s coaching group ahead of their 2019 triumph  

‘When I had my coaching stint with England and was working closely with the spinners and the other boys as well, when I saw the philosophy, the cricket culture, the ambitions of all the players, I thought this is the time England will win the World Cup.

‘When we won, I felt it, we all felt it probably a year-and-a-half before the tournament that this is the World Cup we are able to win as England were dominating one day cricket for that long.

‘We had a couple of hiccups during that journey but in the end when we won the World Cup, no feeling in the world can describe it.’

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Harry Maguire to be watched by England assistant Steve Holland when Manchester United face Brighton

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harry maguire to be watched by england assistant steve holland when manchester united face brighton

England manager Gareth Southgate will dispatch No 2 Steve Holland to check on Harry Maguire on Saturday ahead of deciding whether to hand the defender an international recall.

Having initially been selected in the previous England squad to face Iceland and Denmark earlier this month, central defender Maguire was booted out of the party just hours later after being found guilty on three operate offences following an altercation with Greek police during a post-season holiday to Mykonos.

Maguire has since successfully appealed for a re-trial which United insist effectively makes him an innocent man until the new court case is concluded.

Harry Maguire had been selected in the previous England squad to face Iceland and Denmark

Harry Maguire had been selected in the previous England squad to face Iceland and Denmark

England manager Gareth Southgate will dispatch No 2 Steve Holland (R) to check on Maguire

England manager Gareth Southgate will dispatch No 2 Steve Holland (R) to check on Maguire

Southgate is faced with a dilemma regarding Maguire’s selection for next month’s matches against Wales, Belgium and Denmark given the circumstances, though the England boss said earlier this month that he would consider picking the former Leicester man.

And Holland is due to be at the Amex Stadium on Saturday afternoon to watch Maguire take on Brighton before he and Southgate decide whether to select the Manchester United defender.

The game will also provide Holland an opportunity to monitor young United striker Mason Greenwood, whose place in the squad is under huge doubt after he was sent home from Iceland in disgrace for inviting two women back to the team hotel.

Holland (right) will travel to Brighton & Hove Albion's Amex Stadium to watch Maguire play

Holland (right) will travel to Brighton & Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium to watch Maguire play

Greenwood and Manchester City midfielder Foden – who were both in the squad for the first time – were banished back to England for the error in judgement; Southgate critical of the pair’s behaviour in the aftermath.

Whether to re-select the fledgling duo will be one of the key decisions facing Southgate ahead of Thursday’s announcement – but it is understood the pair will not be picked for the seniors.

Southgate will watch Sheffield United’s game against Leeds on Sunday before going to Manchester City versus Leicester.

Maguire is pictured above leaving the court building on the Aegean Island of Syros in August

Maguire is pictured above leaving the court building on the Aegean Island of Syros in August

Holland will watch Newcastle’s visit to Tottenham on Sunday before heading to Fulham versus Aston Villa on Monday.

Southgate will be at Anfield for Liverpool’s game against Arsenal, which is also on Monday night.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Pep Guardiola’s injury crisis deepens as Gabriel Jesus becomes latest Man City ace to be struck down

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pep guardiolas injury crisis deepens as gabriel jesus becomes latest man city ace to be struck down

Gabriel Jesus is the latest Manchester City star struck down by injury, leaving teenager Liam Delap their only recognised striker.

Brazil announced on Friday that Jesus had been withdrawn from next month’s World Cup qualifiers after suffering a problem during Monday’s win at Wolves.

Guardiola’s injury problems have deepened, with the manager claiming he has just 13 senior professionals available for Sunday’s home clash with Leicester City.

It has been revealed that Gabriel Jesus suffered an injury in Manchester City's win at Wolves

It has been revealed that Gabriel Jesus suffered an injury in Manchester City’s win at Wolves

Delap, 17, is in contention to make a Premier League debut after scoring on his professional bow during Thursday night’s 2-1 Carabao Cup third round victory over Bournemouth. Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne have been used as false nines in previous campaigns.

City have been without Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo, Aleks Zinchenko and Nicolas Otamendi, while Ilkay Gundogan remains in self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus.

Aymeric Laporte is back training but may not be risked tomorrow. John Stones and Fernandinho were also absent on Thursday night and it is unclear who Guardiola can call upon.

It leaves Pep Guardiola with a conundrum as injury crisis worsens ahead of Leicester match

It leaves Pep Guardiola with a conundrum as injury crisis worsens ahead of Leicester match

‘We have just 13 players available,’ Guardiola said. ‘But at this club, excuses don’t exist. We have to win the games. We need the academy, not just for the training sessions.

‘With the problems we have up front, of course Liam will stay with us. We’ll see if we need him or use him.’ Young academy products Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Cole Palmer, Tommy Doyle and Felix Nmecha also have a chance of being named in the squad.

Meanwhile, Sportsmail understands City are on the verge of signing young Rangers striker Adedire Mebude – partly as a consequence of Delap’s rapid rise to prominence.

17-year-old Liam Delap (left) is currently City's only fit and available striker

17-year-old Liam Delap (left) is currently City’s only fit and available striker

Delap trained with Guardiola’s squad during Project Restart and the club had planned to play the striker up at Under-23 level this season, leaving a slot in their Under 18 team.

That, coupled with Charlie McNeill’s departure for rivals Manchester United, has seen City move for 16-year-old Mebude, who is expected to sign for a fee in the region of £200,000.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Matt Chapman is back and reckons he’s found a way of helping the industry get through tough times

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matt chapman is back and reckons hes found a way of helping the industry get through tough times scaled

COULD a form of betting tax save British racing from destruction? 

Before you spit out your cornflakes, or indeed cinnamon crunch, in disgust at the thought just read on.

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Survival. That is what the world is about right now both in terms of health and job retention. And, incidentally, they often go hand in hand. 

Horse racing in the UK can survive. It must survive, for the good of a beautiful animal and because of its position as the second biggest sport behind football. 

Its expenditure generates in the region of £3billion, and the financial contribution to the British economy is getting on for £500m while supporting 20,000-odd jobs. 

Racing is a big industry, be in no doubt. 

In the light of the current Covid-19 crisis, the important message the sport must get across to Government is just how big. 

If crowds being allowed on a racecourse are being stopped, then we need to know why. Not simply accept it’s not happening. As of yet I have heard no explanation why trials of crowds have been prevented. It can’t be Covid related, because a racecourse is about as safe a venue as you could be in the world. Someone needs to explain. 

If things stay as they are, then punters and bookmakers may well have to come together to support horse racing. Quite simply, if they love the sport and want to bet on it in the future then there may be no choice. 

Betting duty was abolished in 2001, meaning that punters no longer had to pay tax. The suggestion that they might ever have to again would be abhorrent to some. But these are unprecedented times. 

Most punters are racing fans. The majority will not want racecourses to close or horse racing to collapse. 

Indeed, I have been contacted by some who are only too keen to contribute in some way to support the cause. 

If Government taxed punters for the next year, and to double up bookmakers agreed to match that tax, however much that might be in the pound, then it might be a way of keeping finances and jobs going. 

Once the crisis is done and dusted the tax would be lifted. It’s just an idea, but every idea needs considering.

Don’t miss the best of Sun Racing

It’s sport just like that at Newmarket today that we want to preserve for the future. 

The Group 1 Cheveley and Middle Park Stakes could easily throw up a star, while the Cambridgeshire is always one of the classiest handicaps of the season. 

Many eyes will be on Dandalla in the Cheveley, as she chases a four-timer for Karl Burke having taken the Albany at Royal Ascot and Duchess of Cambridge Stakes on the July course from Fev Rover and Santosha

I have a feeling Sacred could prove a very good each-way bet in this, as she’s better than we have seen in recent defeats, including when second to the re-opposing Miss Amulet in the Lowther at York. Tom Marquand rides Sacred, and his last two weekends have pretty pretty good with success in the St Leger on Galileo Chrome and in the Ayr Gold Cup aboard monster gamble Nahaarr

I’m really strong on Lucky Vega in the Middle Park, and was amazed he was not favourite at the forty-eight hour declaration stage. 

Bookmakers then favoured Method, Minzaal and Supremacy over Lucky Vega, but Jessica Harrington’s tough Group 1 hero will be hard to deny. You can forget his fifth in the National Stakes at the Curragh as he never got a run and I have a feeling he is better at six furlongs in any case. 

The Cambridgeshire is wide open as you would expect, although Tempus and Sinjaari look quality recent winners who have every chance for the powerful stables of Roger Chartlon and William Haggas. 

The latter has three in the top five in the betting, as he also sends out Ilaraab and Montatham who have both been in tremendous form. No surprise there, as Haggas is an awesome handler. 

That said, I’m expecting a huge effort from Bell Rock for the Andrew Balding/Oisin Murphy combination. 

Bell Rock started the season winning at Newmarket over a mile, and since then he was far from disgraced when sixth in the Royal Hunt Cup and then an unlucky third to Maydanny at Goodwood. This trip could well be ideal and while he’s quite high in the ratings he’s lightly raced and could still improve. 

So much to look forward to. But unless we step in, for how long? 

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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