It is difficult to be critical of England's spin duo of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, even in contrast to their Pakistani opposite numbers who, lest we forget, took 19 of the 20 England wickets that fell in Abu Dhabi.
|Saqlain Mushtaq - inventor of the doosra|
Chasing small fourth innings totals is often a case of mind over matter. In this instance, it is perhaps fair to deduce that the trickery of Ajmal in particular played a key subliminal role in laying waste to the English batting order. In fact, such uncertainty can probably be narrowed down to just one delivery; the 'doosra'.
The term doosra translates to "(the) second (one)" or "(the) other (one)" in Urdu; one of crickets more mysterious deliveries reportedly invented by former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq. A delivery that turns the opposite way to a conventional off-break, it is a formidable weapon within the arsenal of the modern off-spinner.
Why, then, is so little seen of this mystery delivery outside of the sub-continent?
Such controversy over this one delivery has led to the word doosra becoming almost taboo in many cricketing nations. Australia, for example, chose to ban the teaching of the doosra in 2009, with a summit held by Cricket Australia declaring that the delivery simply cannot be bowled legally. England has its own issues with the doosra. As recently as 2011 Maurice Holmes, a young off-spin bowler on the books of Warwickshire CCC, was suspended by the ECB after umpires reported a suspect action when Holmes utilised his own doosra. Despite weeks of remedial work leading to his action being cleared, Holmes was released by Warwickshire.
Holmes, during a recent interview with The Telegraph, says that despite his own struggles and controversy surrounding the legality of his action, he is of the belief that more English off-spinners should be encouraged and taught to bowl the doosra. “There are a lot of similar bowlers around the world and I don’t think that it should be discouraged,” says Holmes. “The doosra is a growing part of the game but I’m a rarity in England. As far as I am aware I am the only English bowler who bowls it.”
The doosra should no longer be deemed a wrong’un in English cricket.