England pan Ajmal’s talk of mystery ‘teesra’ ball

ENGLAND’S out-of-form batsmen have been advised by batting coach Graham Gooch not lose any sleep over claims that Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal is set to unleash his new mystery ‘teesra’ delivery on them in the upcoming Test series.

Andrew Strauss’s side failed to pass 300 in their opening warm-up match against an ICC combined XI and again struggled yesterday on the opening day of their game against a Pakistan Cricket Board XI in Dubai.

Alastair Cook made 133 and Matt Prior 46 in a total of 269-9 declared, but the rest struggled at the hands of leg-spinner Yasir Shah.

Ajmal, meanwhile, has been coy about the new weapon he claims to have in his armoury, revealing only that it will be a back-spinning delivery.

He will, nonetheless, be encouraged by England’s recent travails, but Gooch has told England’s batsmen to worry about what he delivers from his hand, rather than his mouth.

He said: “We’ll wait and see about the teesra. Saying one thing and doing it are two different things in my book,” said Gooch. “I’m always a little bit cynical. I played against Shane Warne most of his career, the greatest spin bowler I’ve ever played against.

“He’d always come up with ‘I’ve got this ball – the zooter’. So what is this ball, the ‘zooter’?

“It’s the ball that just goes straight on if I remember rightly. It’s all a little bit smoke and mirrors, isn’t it?”

Cook’s typically patient 260-ball knock anchored England’s innings yesterday, but the likes of Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell, both dismissed without troubling the scorers, found conditions much less to their liking.

But even with less than a week to go before the first Test gets underway, Gooch is not concerned by the lack of form displayed by some of England’s most prolific run scorers and heaped praise on Cook.

“All our guys would of course like to spend as much time as he has in the middle. But credit to him – he’s shown his incredible powers of concentration once again.”