x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Shahzad has two things in his favour

Captain Strauss will ignore his inexperience and his unorthodox but handy batting ability could help see him get the nod over Sidebottom against Bangladesh today.

MANCHESTER, England // An foot stress fracture has meant England will have to choose between the experienced Ryan Sidebottom and rookie Ajmal Shahzad against Bangladesh in the second Test today. But if Shahzad gets the nod, it would be his extra talent in batting - even if it may be a bit unorthodox - that could see him tide the experience disadvantage which captain Andrew Strauss is not focusing much on as well. "Experience counts for a bit, but doesn't count for everything. I'd rather have a less experienced player who is genuinely a world class performer than a more experienced player whose powers are on the wane," he said. Strauss also realises that it may be England's last chance to have a look at Shahzad before Stuart Broad comes back too for selection against Pakistan later this summer. "With Ryan we know what we're going to get. He's a very experienced campaigner, good at English conditions in particular and against left-arm bowlers. "With Ajmal we don't know as much about but we've been very excited by what we've seen, which is why he's been in the squad for a fair amount of time now. "He bowls with good pace, keeps running all day and can swing a ball both ways. It's a choice between youth and experience and we've got to decide what is the best way of winning this Test match."

Also in Shahzad's favour is his skill with the bat. He has an average of 32 in first-class cricket and describes himself as an all-rounder. Though the highest spot he is likely to get is seventh, his technique has confounded even his fellow bowlers like Sajid Mahmood. He takes his position a good foot away from the stumps and steps closer just at the time of the delivery by the bowler. It is an unconventional approach - Andy Flowers, the England coach, compared it to the golfer Jim Furyk's swing - but it is one he adopted to cover up for his bad habit of moving across the line and exposing his leg stump. "By the time I'd finish you could see the middle of leg stick, which I didn't know until I kept getting it bowled over every time," says Shahzad. "To counter that I have to bat a foot outside leg stump and as the bowler is running in I adjust and land perfectly on middle stump. It works for me, even if it is a bit different, and it puts a bit of doubt in the bowler's mind." lthornhill@thenational.ae