Opener exorcised his demons with relentless desire to improve
If you have been an opener in Test cricket in recent years, your worst nightmare has been opening against Stuart Broad and James Anderson in England. England in recent summers has been the place where Test averages wither like flowers in the sun.
Since 2016, overseas Test openers average 24 here – the lowest of any country in the world bar South Africa. The multifarious challenges
England brings have overwhelmed players with far more Test pedigree than Shan Masood. But few have been exposed quite so brutally.
In four Tests against England in 2015-16, Masood faced 57 deliveries from Anderson. He was dismissed six times, averaging 2.5 a dismissal, Masood’s technique prised open with the precision of a surgeon.
So, Masood recognised that his game needed surgery. And quickly: few weeks after being dropped to spare him from Anderson in 2016, Masood turned 27. “Looking at my game, I had a lot of flaws,” Masood told the Red Inker podcast recently.
After Pakistan’s tour, Masood stayed in England, where he has a family home handily near Lord’s, for another month. Masood contacted Gary Palmer, the freelance cricket coach who has worked with Alastair Cook and Dom Sibley.
Palmer’s diagnosis was that Masood was getting his head too far outside off stump, causing him to lose his balance and judgment of which balls he could leave. “We worked extensively on his technique, alignment, balance and playing straight and leaving the ball outside off stump,” Palmer recalls.
Four years ago, Shan Masood left 3 per cent of balls in the 20cm strip outside off stump. Here the figure was 22 per cent