Asif’s advice to Abbas worked wonders

28-year-old was the player of the series in Tests against Australia in UAE


Before the beginning of the two-match Test series between Pakistan and Australia in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it was reasonable to expect the spinners to have a major say on the proceedings but as things turned out it was pacer Mohammad Abbas who stole the limelight.

The 28-year-old claimed up 17 wickets over the course of two matches and was by far the best bowler during the series.  

Abbas had earlier pointed out in one of his interviews that fast-bowler Mohammad Asif is among his role models and now it seems that the latter’s advice worked wonders for Abbas.

"I gave Abbas a piece of advice in the past which was simply this: 'You do not have to bowl fast enough to get the ball flying to the wicketkeeper. Your main objective is to get the ball directed at the three stumps. How well you do it is based upon pitching the ball consistently in the right areas and that is what you need to work hard at',” said Asif while talking to Sky Sports. "What I am really pleased with, though, is the fact that Abbas has been taking my advice ever since the days he played alongside me in first-class cricket for Khan Research Laboratories (KRL).”

Asif was also surprised to see Abbas mention him as one of his role models when the likes of Wasim Akram and others should have been a convenient option. He added that he will be giving Abbas further advice in order to help him become a better bowler.

"I was a little taken aback but felt honoured when Abbas mentioned me as an influence on his bowling when he could have easily mentioned the likes of the legendary Wasim Akram," said Asif. "But he is a good learner and is always asking me for advice on improvements to his bowling and I will be speaking to him again soon about what else he can do to become an even better bowler.”

Asif also suggested that the pacer’s inclusion in the limited-overs Pakistan squad will be a good idea bearing in mind that the 2019 ICC World Cup is in England and Wales although he insisted that Abbas must improve his fitness.

"Right now he has had a few good series but what I would really like him to do is to repeat similar performances against New Zealand and South Africa,” he said. “His inclusion in Pakistan's ODI team will also be a good idea. He cannot rest on his laurels and he needs to constantly work on increasing his skill levels to remain at the top. If he does wish to be considered for all three formats of the game, then his fitness levels need to be top notch.”

Asif also expressed his desire to work with Abbas and help him improve certain areas of his fast-bowling and especially his outswing.

“I would love to work with him to improve his skills and especially on improving his outswing,” he said. “He is relying mainly on inswing and he will need to also add outswing into his arsenal as I did not see much evidence of that in the Test series against Australia.”

He also shed light on Abbas’ philosophy behind bowling indicating the importance of line and length over speed.

"I suggest our bowlers who are just satisfied at seeing the batsmen ducking and bowling a wicket-taking delivery once in a while should watch Abbas and learn from him,” he said. "Fast bowling isn't just about running in and bowling as quick as you can, it's about subtle changes, it's about those slight adjustments that make all the difference. It's like a game of chess and out-thinking your opponent, working out their next move and being one step ahead of the batsman."