LAHORE: Former Pakistan leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed celebrates his 52nd birthday on Tuesday (today). Born on 28th June 1970 in Sahiwal, Mushtaq, having nickname Mushy, succeeded his idol late Abdul Qadir in the national squad in 1989. Mushtaq was a match-winner like his role-model and one of the finest wrist spinners in the world. He was Pakistan’s frontline spinner in the 1990s. A short man, Mushy had a short run up and would throw both his hands simultaneously in the air before delivering the ball. The weird action and his repertoire of variations which included a well-disguised googly made it hard for batsmen to pick, who often were forced to guess which way the ball would spin. He played a big part in Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup campaign. Wasim Akram took the headlines but Mushy took the big wickets of Graham Gooch and Graeme Hick in a bewildering spell in the final. Pakistan won the tournament and Mushtaq’s bag of 16 wickets was a vital contribution. In 1997, he was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year. Praising Mushtaq, Wisden wrote: “By taking 45 wickets in six Tests for Pakistan between November 1995 and August 1996 Mushtaq confirmed his status as the final member — alongside Shane Warne and Anil Kumble — of a glittering triumvirate of wrist-spinners who adorn the modern game. Mushtaq is the most enchanting of the lot.” It was indicative of a spinner who was at the top of his game in international cricket. In an international career that spanned from 1990 until 2003, he claimed 185 wickets in Test cricket and 161 in one-day internationals. Mushtaq was at his most prolific internationally between 1995 and 2000. In 1995, recalled for the two Tests in Hobart and Sydney, he claimed 18 wickets; there were ten more in Christchurch Test against New Zealand. But his maturity was confirmed in the three-Test series against England in the summer of 1996. He spun Pakistan to victory at Lord’s and The Oval. In the glow of victory, his captain Wasim Akram proclaimed that Mushtaq was better than Warne. Mushtaq certainly enjoyed playing at home, and against West Indies at Peshawar in 1997, he earned his best bowling figures in a match. He took 5-35 in the first innings, then followed it up with 5-71 in the second innings, as the home side won by an innings and 19 runs. He was dropped from the national team after a loss of form in the 2000-01 season. But Pakistan’s loss proved to be English county Sussex’s gain. His most successful years were as a domestic player for Sussex in the early 2000s. During his time with Sussex, he became the first bowler in five years to take 100 wickets in the English season, a return which was instrumental in guiding Sussex to the first Championship title in their history (2003), a feat he and they repeated in 2006 and the following season (2007). However, he put his future with the county at risk by signing with the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League. Persistent knee trouble forced him to retire from first-class cricket towards the end of the 2008 season and he was quickly snapped up by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) as England’s spin-bowling coach. From 2014-2016, he served the Pakistan cricket team as their bowling coach. In 2018 and 2019 he served as an assistant coach and spin consultant of the West Indies national team. At present, Mushtaq is attached with the Pakistan Cricket Board as its spin bowling consultant at the National Cricket Academy.