Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Saqlain a ‘huge help’, says Surrey and England U19 spinner Virdi

LONDON: Surrey and England Young Lions off-spinner Amar Virdi insists Pakistan great Saqlain Mushtaq has helped elevate his game to another level. Virdi signed his first professional contract with Surrey last summer after playing regularly for the county’s second XI and representing England U19s in their Test series with Sri Lanka. And the 18-year-old, who earned selection for last month’s England Young Lions winter training camp to Dubai, understands why England turned to Mushtaq to act as a spin bowling consultant during the Test series in India. “I’m lucky enough to know Saqlain on a personal level and have been working with him for the last four or five years,” Virdi told. “He’s been a huge help for my bowling and without him I don’t think I would be where I am at the moment. “He has opened my eyes to so, so many things and I’m not surprised England called upon him to work with our spinners because he is really amazing. “At Surrey, Gareth Batty is someone I always turn to for advice. He’s a great mentor for me to have at my age, with the 20 years of experience he has in the game. He always answers my questions and it’s great to see him on the tour of India where he can also lend his experience to the current crop of English spinners.”

West Londoner Virdee was speaking at the Kia Oval where he was conducting a spin masterclass for young cricketers from his century-old former grassroots club Indian Gymkhana. “It was great to do this charity-based event in association with Inventive Sports and my old club Indian Gymkhana as part of my commitment as an England U19 player. “It is so important for players to give something back and I feel that even more as a British Asian because I feel there are not enough British Asians playing the game at the top level. “I think it’s so important to give youngsters that hope that there is a chance to make it if they decide to seriously go down the sports route.” Inventive Sports director and Asian Cricket Awards co-founder Jas Jassal added: “We are so proud to support Amar Virdi at the beginning of his journey because he is a genuine young British Asian cricketing talent. It’s clear that he has the potential to play the game at the very highest level.”

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