Ajmal 'pained' by hiatus from cricket
Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal has described his time away from the game as "the most difficult" of his life.
Ajmal, who was banned from bowling in international cricket in September for an illegal action, underwent extensive remedial work with former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq, and had to go through three unofficial tests before finally being cleared by the ICC in February.
Ajmal, who was the top-ranked ODI bowler at the time of his suspension, credited his family and friends for helping him through the ordeal, and remained confident that he could return as the linchpin of Pakistan's attack after being selected in all three formats for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh.
"It was torture living without cricket," Ajmal told AFP. "I have endured eight months of pain and it was the most difficult time of my life. I did my rehab and remedial work with the support of my family, friends and the Pakistan Cricket Board and now I am quite hopeful that I will be able to bowl as effectively as I used to before the suspension. I see no problems with my remodeled action as I have done enough work on it."
Ajmal had withdrawn himself from Pakistan's World Cup squad to avoid "taking a risk with his career", and after watching his team-mates end their turbulent and inconsistent campaign in the quarter-final, he couldn't help but feel that his experience and edge could have come in handy, particularly during the batting Powerplays.
"I watched the World Cup on television and for 45 days, I wanted to enter the television and play alongside my team-mates and do my part. I felt they were missing me as I was always effective in the batting Powerplays when I used to pick up wickets and that was missing from our game.
"I was in regular touch with the skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and was always trying to pump him and the other players up through my good wishes, but it was tough to be away from the team."
Pakistan met heavy criticism from fans and commentators for their sub-par performances throughout the tournament, and now are further weakened by the retirements of Misbah and Shahid Afridi. Ajmal, however, backed the team to come good in the near future.
"These are difficult times for Pakistan cricket but I am convinced there is no dearth of talent," he said. "In one year's time the team will be settled through concerted efforts and we all will do our best to lift our beloved sport."