CAVE HILL, Barbados -- West Indies head coach Ottis Gibson said he felt the WICB spin bowling clinic being conducted by former Pakistan off-spin master Saqlain Mushtaq was vital to the development to a number of players.
A group of senior and emerging spinners from the Caribbean has been benefitting from the expertise of the legendary Pakistani tweaker during the clinic, which has been taking place at the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre based at the University of the West Indies here.
A number of West Indies sides will be taking to the field of play in the next few months and spin bowling could play a key role in their bid to overcome opponents.
“One of the things that has disappointed me since I have been appointed West Indies head coach – and this is through no fault of anyone – is that the fast bowlers have had a lot of support and we had a fast bowling clinic – but we haven’t had any specialist training for spinners,” said Gibson at a media conference on Wednesday at the Three Ws Oval.
“I may be a bowling coach, but Saqlain is an expert in spin bowling, and when I spoke to him about the opportunity to come across and pass on his knowledge – the way I have passed on to the fast bowlers what I learnt from someone like [the late West Indies great] Malcolm Marshall – it was clear it was the right thing to do.”
West Indies-A start a tour of India this week and they will be followed into action by the West Indies Women in an international home series against New Zealand and England that also includes a tri-nation Twenty20 tournament.
The senior West Indies men’s side head to India at the end of October for a series of two Tests and three One-day Internationals before flying to New Zealand for three Tests, five ODIs and two T20Is.
In between, the West Indies Under-19s also host Bangladesh for a series of seven One-day Internationals in Guyana.
Left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul and off-spinner Ashley Nurse both attended the clinic last week before flying out to India for the A-Team series.
Other attendees include Windies off-spinner Shane Shillingford and leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, as well as Windies Women’s trio of Anisa Mohammed, Shaquana Quintyne and Stafanie Taylor, and Windies Under-19 selectees Gudakesh Motie-Kanhai and Ramaal Lewis.
“For Saqlain to come and pass on the knowledge that he would have acquired from someone like, maybe, [Pakistan leg-spin legend] Abdul Qadir and other great spinners was an opportunity that I felt if I could make it happen, it would be something special for our players,” said Gibson.
“I have been attending the clinic over the last few days and I have been in the sports hall and I have seen how the players are responding to him and I know that it has been something well worth doing.”
Gibson said he was clear in his mind that Saqlain was the right man for the job following a lengthy conversation they had when the senior Windies side last year visited Bangladesh, where the champion off-spinner was working with Mushfiqur Rahim’s side.
The Windies coach said the healthy feedback from Shillingford and Bishoo have cemented this in his mind.
He added that Bishoo, in particular, had been uppermost in his thought when he extended the invitation to Saqlain.
“I have been saddened by the way things have gone for Bishoo,” said Gibson. “Having come into the West Indies team and become ICC Emerging Player-of-the-Year to where he is right now, I strongly felt I needed to get someone over here to give him the support and the belief and I know he has been doing very well.
“Hopefully, this will be the spark that will get Bishoo back into the frame of mind which he had when he got into the West Indies team and did very well.”
Gibson said he would like to invite Saqlain to return to the Caribbean again in the future to share his knowledge with regional coaches.
“It would be ideal that if we invite a player, we also invite his coach to see what Saqlain is going through with the player, so that the player and coach can get a better understanding of spin bowling from an expert,” he said.