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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Mushtaq the missing ingredient
By Martin Gough

Mushtaq appeals against Lancashire
Mushtaq still harbours hopes of a Pakistan recall
One season after just managing to avoid relegation, Sussex are county champions. The main difference? Mushtaq Ahmed.

In his first year at the club, the 33-year-old became the first bowler since 1998 to take 100 Championship wickets, in the same match that his side claimed their first ever title.

But the club's decision to sign him seemed odd, especially when he had failed to take a wicket at Hove in a one-off match for Surrey.

"We spoke to him and he was clearly hungry to play and prove he was still a world-class bowler," says coach Peter Moores.

"He also clearly had a good record both at international and domestic level.

"When we put the two together, and added the fact that he's a leg-spinner, it was ideal."

We've got a great bowling side with great variety so it's just a matter of clicking
Mushtaq Ahmed
His form has come and gone over the years but Mushtaq can sum it up in a single word: "Inshallah." If Allah wills it, the legendary leg-spinner will be successful.

This year, the big man upstairs has come through but Mushtaq, who spent much of the 1990s with Somerset, has done his bit too.

"I always enjoy my game; I work hard," he told the BBC Sport website.

"I've got a good four years left and I want to spend those four years as a good cricketer not an ordinary one.

"I have to work hard and earn my money - cricket is my profession - and if [the Pakistan selectors] don't consider me then I'll just play county cricket, why not?"

For Sussex, he is the final piece in the puzzle, complementing a productive pace attack and a blazing batting line-up.

"We've got a great bowling side with great variety so it's just a matter of clicking," Mushtaq continued.

"James Kirtley and myself have a good partnership so that's really good for the club."

It is hard to believe the man who had England in complete disarray in a World Cup final is not still playing for Pakistan.

MUSHTAQ AHMED FACTFILE
Mushtaq during the 1992 World Cup
Born: Sahiwal, Punjab, 28/6/1970
Tests: 50
183 wkts, ave 32.24, best 7-56
ODIs: 143
161 wkts, ave 32.89, best 5-36

Despite failing to figure at international level since a disappointing tour of New Zealand in 2001, Mushtaq has not given up hope of a return at the highest level.

He was extremely disappointed not to be picked for this year's World Cup after finishing the Pakistan domestic season as the leading wicket-taker.

"In the last two years I've been bowling well at home, taking lots of wickets," he said.

"Then the papers say, 'Why isn't Mushie in the side?' but it's up to [the selectors].

"I'll never go and ask them why I'm not considered because when you believe in God you have to have dignity in front of humans. "My duty is to get wickets and tell them I'm taking wickets."

The leg-spinners in the Sussex Academy have found a new role model in a man many would argue did as much as Shane Warne to put leg-spin back on the map.

"When they play club cricket over here, kids are more sensitive than in Pakistan," he explained.

"If a leg-spinner goes for a few runs here, after a few weeks the coach says, 'have a rest'. Then they want to be seamers.

"If I speak to a leg-spinner I tell them that in the first few years I used to get hammered everywhere in every game but I never gave up."

And after a year like this, he is not about to.




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Mushtaq Ahmed
"Young leg-spinners are more sensitive in England than in Pakistan"



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