Cricket / Fifth Test: Case for another spinner

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The Independent Online
FOR most spectators cricket is a batsman's game - and yet how gloriously untrue this had been on Thursday when Pakistan's bowling reached the heights of artistry, especially when Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed were operating together after lunch.

By Friday though, bowling had, for English eyes at any rate, once more reverted to an exacting form of manual labour. The pitch was good, the batting obdurate and occasionally destructive and the sun wearyingly warm.

Yet England stuck to their task manfully and in the morning session removed both openers, just as Pakistan had done on the first morning. Devon Malcolm was pumped up and by lunch Philip Tufnell had shown that his recall had come not a moment too soon.

After lunch one's mind went back first to Mushtaq's beguiling spell the day before which only the most partisan could have failed to enjoy, for it was such a wonderful exposition of the leg-spinner's art. One's thoughts crept back to Lord's and Ian Salisbury's first Test match, when he too had bowled leg breaks and googlies so well - if only he had been here to cause similar problems.

It was not that long ago that John Emburey, spinning the ball into the right-hander with his fingers rather than away from him with his wrist, and Phil Edmonds, slow left arm like Tufnell, were not far from automatic choices. When the other option, the seamers, are as inconsistent as they are now, surely to play two spinners becomes a legitimate and calculated risk to say the least.

We saw once again, too, that Test cricket, except in exceptional circumstances, is no place for batsmen who are part-time wicketkeepers. No blame to Alec Stewart, but there should be plenty of selectorial blushes even if Javed Miandad did not make his stumping mistake seem too embarrassing.

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