Pakistan fielding coach Steve Rixon has warned England that conditions in Manchester should suit the Pakistan bowling attack more than those at Lord’s. Pakistan won the first Investec Test to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series, with Yasir Shah claiming ten wickets in the match.
But Rixon said the extra bounce anticipated in the Old Trafford wicket will assist both Yasir and Pakistan’s seamers and feels that Mohammad Amir, with his much-anticipated return behind him, will be able to relax and produce improved performances in the rest of the series.
“This pitch will suit both forms of our attack,” Rixon said. “I think our seamers will do very well here with the extra bounce. They had a role to play in the last game, but probably didn’t start as well as they would have liked.
“Amir can move on now. And I do congratulate the Lord’s crowd again because they absolutely embraced him. They could have made life very hard for him, but they were very good. Fair play to them.”
Comparing Yasir’s exceptional control to that of Shane Warne, Rixon suggested that all Test teams would struggle to play him. Yasir went to the top of the Test bowling rankings as a result of his haul at Lord’s and requires 14 wickets from the next two games to break George Lohmann’s long-held record for being quickest to 100 Test victims.
“Generally speaking, Yasir will have a major effect in any game of cricket,” Rixon said. “It doesn’t have to turn a lot for him to have an impact.
“When you have magnificent control you are in the game and there are very few who have had that. Shane Warne is one and Yasir is rightfully sitting at the top of the tree for that reason.
“Most countries around the world play wristies (wristspinners) quite poorly to be honest, so to see someone master it and play them well is a treat to see but I haven’t seen a lot that do that yet.”
Rixon also praised the spirit within the Pakistan camp. Impressed by the fitness and preparation of the team after their boot camp in Pakistan and prolonged training camp in Hampshire at the start of the tour, Rixon talked of “building a culture” within the squad.
“What we’ve got is a group of youngsters who we are getting up to speed and building a culture,” he said. “I wasn’t there for the boot camp but it obviously did make a big difference. It was part of an overall culture change. Now we have to rebuild that culture and make sure everyone is on the same page.”
But Rixon has warned Pakistan they should expect a strong reaction from England and expects both James Anderson and Ben Stokes to play in Manchester.
“Jimmy Anderson is a great bowler and he’ll be a treat in any side,” Rixon said. “He and Stokes are very fine cricketers. They will add to the England attack and overall composition of the side. We are expecting as hard a game as we’ll get in the series right here.
“Having won at Lord’s, the pressure is probably on us. So we need to get our game in order. If we do that and win here, then happy days. But if we lose here and the momentum swings the other way then we have two games in Birmingham and The Oval which create a lot of pressure for our youngsters. So it’s very important we get it right here.”