Hosts honing mystery ball

THE ENGLAND camp has shrugged off Indian hopes that they could be undone by an innovative type of spin when the Test series begins this week.

India bowler Ravichandran Ashwin is honing a carrom ball similar to that used by Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis, in which the thumb and middle flinger flick the ball to achieve either leg or off-spin, or even bowl straight.

But assistant coach Richard Halsall insists England’s own slow-bowling guru Mushtaq Ahmed has allayed any fears about the so-called mystery ball.

“I was very fortunate to spend a few years with Mushtaq at Sussex, and Mushy would have a ‘mystery ball’ every week,” Halsall said.

“He would show it to the opposition in the nets, and as we’d wander off he’d say ‘that’s just my leg-spinner’.”