Banned Ajmal vows to return

2014-09-09 16:06
Saeed Ajmal (AFP)

Karachi - Top-ranked Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was Tuesday suspended indefinitely from international cricket for an illegal bowling action but vowed to return in time for next year's World Cup.

The world's leading one-day international bowler blamed the International Cricket Council (ICC) ruling on his "not usual" right elbow and said he would appeal.

Ajmal, speaking to reporters in his home city of Faisalabad shortly after the announcement, shrugged off the ICC announcement as "not an issue."

But the ban could cause serious problems for Pakistan, firstly in their upcoming series with Australia and also in the World Cup, which they won in 1992.

It comes as part of an ICC crackdown on illegal bowling actions -- where the arm is bent more than 15 degrees -- in international cricket.

"My elbow is not usual, so that's why it seems that I bend it more than normal 15 degree allowed," said Ajmal, who was cleared on medical grounds when his action was first reported in 2009.

"We will go into appeal soon... I will be in action in the World Cup next year, that's my resolve," he added -- though the Pakistan Cricket Board later said it has yet to decide whether to appeal.

The ICC said Ajmal, 36, had been suspended with immediate effect following tests by specialists at Australia's National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.

Ajmal was reported for a suspect action after last month's first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle. He can apply for a reassessment once he has modified his action.

"The analysis revealed that all his deliveries exceeded the 15 degrees level of tolerance permitted under the regulations," the ICC said in a statement.

- Key bowler -

Ajmal is Pakistan's key bowler, with 178 wickets in 35 Tests and 183 in 111 ODIs. He is also the leading wicket-taker in all Twenty20 matches with 85 in 63 matches. He is ranked number one in ODIs.

Ajmal will require to undergo remedial work on his bowling action at Perth's University of Western Australia, where human movement expert Daryl Foster will work on his action.

The ICC said Ajmal can be tested again once the remedial work report is satisfactory. Even if he is cleared, he faces a ban of 12 months if he is reported again within two years.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said it was a "big jolt" to lose a player with a total of more than 350 Test and one-day wickets.

Under the ICC rules a suspended bowler can appeal within 15 days but can risk a ban of six to 12 months in case the appeal is turned down.

"PCB is contemplating its future course of action, weighing all options, after Ajmal was suspended," said a PCB release late Tuesday.

"It's unfortunate and the timing is sad," said head coach Waqar Younis. "Ajmal is mentally very strong and I am sure he will come back after correcting his action.

Ajmal became the seventh Pakistani to be reported for a suspect action, joining Shabbir Ahmed, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi, Riaz Afridi and Shoaib Malik.

The West Indies' Shane Shillingford was also banned for a year after his action was reported twice in 2013.

The ICC has recently come down hard on suspect actions after its cricket committee decided no bowler should be allowed to play at international level without remedial work.

In July this year Sri Lanka's Sachitra Senanayake and New Zealand's Kane Williamson were also reported and subsequently banned until they improved their action.

Zimbabwe's Prosper Utseya and Bangladesh's Sohag Gazi were also reported for suspect action last month. All the bowlers reported this year have been off-spinners.

Ajmal, who turns 37 next month, started his career as late as 2008 after being spotted in Pakistani domestic cricket.

His action was first reported in 2009 over his "doosra," an off-spinner's stock delivery which turns away from the batsman.

In 2012, after taking 24 wickets as Pakistan thrashed England 3-0, Ajmal caused uproar by saying the ICC had given his action special dispensation -- a claim denied by the world governing body.

Pakistan have summoned off-spinner Atif Maqbool, a prolific wicket-taker at domestic level, as a replacement for Ajmal.

Read more on:    cricket world cup  |  saeed ajmal  |  cricket

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