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Jan 11, 2012 at 10:05pm IST

Gooch plays down Ajmal secret ball

Dubai: England's batting coach Graham Gooch played down the hype over Pakistani spinner Saeed Ajmal's mystery delivery he wants to unveil in the three-Test series, saying it will be a good challenge.

"He (Ajmal) is the top wicket-taker of 2011 in Test cricket, so it's going to be a good challenge for us," said Gooch of Pakistan's off-spinner who took 50 wickets last year.

Ajmal threw the first dice ahead of the first Test against England starting here from January by revealing that he has a special mystery delivery which he will unveil against England. But Gooch, himself a master batsman for England having scored 8,900 runs in 118 Tests during an illustrious career, said it was not a concern.

Gooch plays down Ajmal secret ball

Ajmal revealed he has a special mystery delivery to fox the Englishmen.

"We'll wait and see (about the special delivery). Saying one thing and doing it are two different things in my book. I am always a little bit cynical," said Gooch.

"I played against Shane Warne most of his career, the greatest spin bowler I've ever played against.

"He'd always come up with 'I've got this ball - the 'zooter'," said Gooch of the master Australian spinner who took 708 Test wickets.

"So what is this ball, the 'zooter' - it's the ball that just goes straight on actually, if I remember rightly.

"It's all a little bit of smoke and mirrors, isn't it," Gooch said. "Just remember, you don't play the bowler and what he says; you play the ball that comes out of his hand."

Gooch also played down England's unimpressive batting in the two tour games. England were restricted to 185-8 and managed 261-7 during their hard fought three-wicket win in a three-day match against an ICC Combined XI and were also unimpressive with 269-9 declared against Pakistan Cricket Board XI on Wednesday.

"I don't have concerns. But everyone would like to spend time in the middle, and if they miss out they might feel they're a little bit short on confidence but you've got to believe in yourself, think back to when you've done well.

"England were lifted by Alastair Cook's defiant 133 on Wednesday, and Gooch praised the opener.

"He's come up with some runs in a part of the world where it's a bit slow and you've got to get into the tempo of the play and work a bit harder for your runs.

"He's been a bit of a rock for England in the recent past, and he wants to carry on - as do all the other players."

Gooch said Pakistan will pose tough challenges.

"We know the challenges ahead, and Pakistan are a very talented side. They've had some very good results recently, and it's going to be tough cricket over here. We'll need to be at our best to win this series."

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