The ICC’s decision to suspend Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal from international cricket after his bowling action was found illegal by bio-mechanics experts has come as a massive setback for the country’s cricket team, and a definite bolt out of the blue. Pakistan have been inundated with numerous setbacks over the last decade, but this is definitely among the biggest ones. After all, Ajmal is no ordinary cricketer. He has not only been Pakistan’s best bowler, and most consistent performer over the last three years, but is also the leading bowler in the world across formats.
Consistency has never been Pakistan’s forte, but over the last few years the off-spinner has proved than players from their country can also deliver match-winning performers over an elongated period of time. In fact, Ajmal has been one of the key reasons why Pakistan have tasted decent amount of success across all formats in recent years. Without him, Pakistan will not be half as good. This is one of the key reasons why the team would be keen to get him back in the side as soon as possible. With the World Cup only months away now, Pakistan cannot afford to lose Ajmal.
The fact that ICC’s team of bio-mechanics experts has found all his deliveries illegal raises a very shocking question – was Ajmal bowling illegal deliveries all this while in international cricket? If that is the case, then the ICC must take a lot of flak for allowing such an occurrence. Remember, the last time Ajmal was reported for a suspect action was back in 2009. However, he was cleared after being tested. Since, he has gone on to establish himself as one of the game’s finest spinners in recent years. But, now ICC says his bowling his illegal. What conclusion should be drawn from the same?
Ajmal stated after the ICC verdict that an accident has caused the unusual bent in the arm, and that he is confident of being cleared. Now, this is a very tricky situation for the ICC to be in. If Ajmal proves through medical reports that the additional bend in his action is due to an accident, should the ICC allow him to bowl on, even if he crosses the 15 degree bend? If they do so then the same concession will have to be provided to other bowlers with similar conditions. Alternately, if he banned from the game, it would seem exceedingly unfair as Ajmal would be out for no fault of his. It seems Ajmal, this time, has bowled the ICC a doosra.
--By A Cricket Analyst