England’s young left-arm spin bowler Zafar Ansari says he closely followed Indian spinner Pragyan Ojha’s action and tried to learn from Murali Kartik during their county stints at Surrey.
The 24-year-old Ansari picked up three wickets, including that of Ajinkya Rahane, in the drawn first Test against India in Rajkot.
“First Pragyan Ojha, first four games in 2011. The way he bowls, his actions, I followed closely for a short period of time. Murali Kartik was similar. His approach, the way he spends time at the crease. I watched and tried to learn from him,” Ansari said ahead of the second Test here.
He is one of the four Muslim cricketers in the England squad currently touring India.
“As a group of four British Muslims, there is something in that. It’s really exciting and something we’re proud of. But I would not think myself as a role model. I don’t necessarily challenge norms in a particularly way. So I would not think myself as breaking down boundaries. Moeen (Ali), Adil (Rashid) and Haseeb (Hameed) all of them are doing a wonderful job representing their communities. And that’s not an easy role to play but they are doing it really well.”
He added, “My second Test felt easier then the first from a psychological perspective. It’s just the attention being removed from you to some extent.”
Asked about his progress in competitive cricket, “Ansari said, “It’s all relative. I am probably comparing myself with Moeen and people like that. They work incredibly hard. They have certain things maybe I don’t feel like I have.”
Ansari said former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, who is now spin consultant of the England team, only worked on the basics.
“He has not brought anything particularly new. He does not talk about changing (bowling) action etc. It’s about the basics, like thinking about the trajectory of the ball, the pace. He talks about the little things which goes into spin bowling and it gives us the confidence.
“It is more about the approach to the game like how to maintain your composure. But his thoughts about spin bowling is very useful for a young spinner because he keeps it simple.”