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‘Players will have to be mentally strong when international cricket resumes’

Karanchi: Spin consultant of the Pakistan team, Mushtaq Ahmed says more than the skills, the players’ mental strength will matter when top-level cricket resumes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in England.

Ahmed, who recently joined the national set-up, said the series between England and the West Indies will provide lessons as the game is set to resume with that series, starting July 8.

“I think we are going to learn a lot from the West Indies and England series and in the Covid-19 conditions. More than the skills, the mental strength of players will matter a lot. In these difficult circumstances the role of mentors have become very important,” he said.

The Pakistan team is likely to reach England around June 25 to start preparations for their Test and T20 series in a bio-secure environment including remaining in a 14-days quarantine and having nets and practice drills and matches in isolated conditions.

Ahmed also made it clear that the new-look management of the Pakistan team including head coach Misbah-ul-Haq, bowling coach Waqar Younis, batting coach, Younis Khan and he himself were all on the same page and realised the importance of playing in England.

“Players and coaches will require some time to adjust to the new playing conditions and playing in front of empty stadiums. I think the time we have in England before the series will be spent on preparing the players mentally for these challenges.”

“For cricket activities to start in Covid-19 conditions is a tough ask of the players.”

Mushtaq who has worked as spin consultant with teams like England and the West Indies said if the upcoming two series in England go off well then world cricket can slowly get back to normalcy within this year.

“That is why these two series are so important. We have to see how players, especially bowlers, adjust to the new rules like not using spit to shine the ball. We have to see how this will affect performance of the bowlers,” he said.

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