Abrar Ahmed: first look in Test cricket

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We don’t believe you can draw meaningful conclusions from players’ debuts – but we report on them anyway.

How very Pakistan to fight fire with magic. How very Pakistan to have a random pile of spare magic just lying around waiting to be used in a Test match – this time in the form of leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed.

There was a certain contrast in how the two captains used their wicket-takers on day one of the second Test in Multan. James Anderson took England’s first wicket with his eighth delivery, only for Ben Stokes to haul him from the attack at the end of the over, the opening bowler’s work apparently done for the day. Abrar Ahmed got Pakistan’s first wicket at the end of his first over, after which Babar Azam asked him to bowl another 21.

You’d have to say that 7-114 was a pretty useful return from those 22 overs, particularly given what had happened in the previous match.

Maybe it was the pitch, maybe it was spinning it both ways. Maybe it was batters unfamiliar with his method or an approach that just lends itself to combating the style of batting England are favouring at the minute. Maybe it was a little of all of these things and also the simple fact that if you bowl enough absolute beauties, sooner or later you’re going to get some wickets. Not everything’s about some grandiose philosophy and whether it’s The Future or foolhardiness.

We like quick run-scoring and we agree with Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes that lack of conviction, fear of failure and second-guessing oneself are generally the biggest impediments to success for a batter. However, we also like the old fashioned idea that there are some deliveries you just can’t whack and Abrar Ahmed seemed to serve up a fair few of these on his Test debut.

All in all, we really enjoyed Abrar’s bowling. We also greatly enjoyed hearing Mike Atherton seemingly exclaim “a bra!” on commentary because within this juvenile exterior of ours is merely a puerile interior.

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  1. I don’t think we’ve talked enough about the fact that he did all this wearing glasses.

    Finally, the Vettori heir we’ve been waiting for.

    Slightly more seriously, the tag ‘mystery spinner’ almost implies he’s doomed to an Ajantha Mendis-style trajectory of being impossible to bat against, then progressively less difficult to play against and fading from view. I hope that’s not the case.

    1. Cruel spectacles aplenty in and around this match.

      Leach & Imam from the muggle community.

      Abrar “Harry Potter” Ahmed on the field and Stuart “Draco Malfoy” Broad in the Sky studio representing the wizard community.

      In other broadcasting news, I thought Aggers “shaggy dog story whinge” about his packed sandwich (around the time Ben Stokes was dismissed) was an excruciating example of “sense of entitlement” sentiment. Does the fellow really not know how achieve his ends while behaving politely? Aggers I mean, not Ben Stokes, obvs.

      1. Yesterday morning, on TMS, around the time Stokes got out (session two), Aggers told a long, tedious tale about ordering a take-out cheese sandwich from the Maitre-D of the hotel, who took a very detailed sandwich specification from Aggers and wanted feedback afterwards.

        I thought that the punchline was going to be that no sandwich arrived or that the sandwich provided was something significantly other than cheese.

        But no.

        Aggers beef with this cheese sandwich (did you see what I did there?) was that the sandwich provided was a double or triple decker that he found hard to eat in the time-honoured sandwich-eating fashion.

        Aggers dragged out this non-story at length because he wanted Vic Marks’s advice on how to provide feedback.

        Vic answered by saying, “just tell the truth”, which seemed to me self-evident to anyone who has the faintest idea of how to be straightforward while also being kind and polite.

        I found the whole exchange excruciating, a sensation accentuated by the loss of Stokes in the middle of the rambling tale.

      2. Multan: where cheese sandwiches aren’t always quite the right height for absolutely everybody.

  2. I bet these spinners wish they could fold up this pitch and carry it round with them.

    Which makes me wonder, maybe it’s all the creases from doing this that makes it such a Bunsen in the first place. You can’t ever get it to go completely flat, there’s bound to be some ridges in it.

    1. If the rarest result occurs more than once it could be a case of Arbra and Pant ties……

      ….I apologise for the above and have tendered my resignation to the board.

      1. And now I have to apologise for the typo as well.

        I always seem to struggle when talking about clothing in the context of the subcontinent.

        Sari seems to be the hardest word….

        …once again, I apologise and have tendered another resignation.

    2. I have just read this bit of the thread to Daisy.

      She rolled her eyes.

      I told her I had a vague notion of a response to include the words “nickers” and “slippers”.

      She rolled her eyes again, more rigorously the second time.

      Daisy rolling her eyes is not a good sign.

    3. Looking at the performances in the first two tests, I feel that Pakistan didn’t use their quick bowlers sufficiently. England might be extremely vulnerable to some short-pitched stuff. Not that the spin option should be neglected of course. They might do well to target England with short bowling from one end, backed up with spin from the other.

      Abrar should be used to support the bouncers.

      1. Stop giving them ideas. Don’t you want a few tests to have win/loss results? Given every team management visits this site regularly, I am afraid Karachi now will be a low scoring draw.

        But then again given this is Pakistan, they might just read that last sentence of yours and choose to employ Abrar in a pub in Karachi instead, supporting the bouncers. And the proceed to win the match.

      2. I suspect it is as hard to find a pub in Karachi as it is to find an honest politician in the current UK Government, DC, but I get your point.

        Picking up on Bert’s point slightly differently, I do feel that England somewhat “got away with a win” in Multan – mostly by bowling their way out of trouble…just. The England batting, in both but especially the second innings, was beyond “positive” on my dial, registering “reckless” at times. The two runouts and the last five wicket collapse being the worst offending parts.

        This is more a calibration point than a “grumpy old man who prefers defensive batting” point. I applaud the positive, exciting, fearless approach. But fearlessness should mean that attack is your primary thought, not your only thought. More varied bowling attacks and more helpful pitches will undo recklessness.

        But still we should celebrate these superb wins for England. It is unprecedented for a team to visit Pakistan and boss a series like this. It might not be a strong Pakistan team, but if England had played “normally”, we’d probably have been looking at 0-0 with one to play after Multan.

      3. ‘Calibration’ is a lovely and appropriate word to use.

        Occasionally overshooting is a better way of finding the sweet spot than perpetually undershooting, we’d say.

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