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September 4, 2012

Pakistan cricket

Ajmal, master of a loser's game

Kamran Abbasi
Pakistan celebrate as the lbw referral against Kevin Pietersen is upheld, Pakistan v England, 1st Test, Dubai, 1st day, January 17, 2012
South Africa's rise to number one in the Test rankings was heavily influenced by Saeed Ajmal's demolition of England in the UAE  © Getty Images
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Australia won a skirmish in the desert but one player dominated despatches. He was the leading wicket taker in the ODI series, with an average typical of school cricket. For Saeed Ajmal, the man snubbed by ICC's inscrutable panel of experts, such excellence is business as usual.

The mystery of Ajmal's exclusion from the ICC's shortlist for the Cricketer of the Year award is a big one. The Pakistan Cricket Board has submitted a formal complaint, hoping that Ajmal, like Graeme Swann before him in 2010, will be included on appeal. Supporters have turned to social media to berate the ICC for overlooking Ajmal - a firm favourite among Pakistan fans and acclaimed more broadly as the world's leading spin bowler.

Ajmal's absence from the shortlist is truly bizarre. South Africa's rise to number one in the Test rankings was heavily influenced by Ajmal's demolition of England in the UAE; a performance that helped Pakistan's beguiling spinner become leading Test wicket taker in the year covered by the ICC awards. Consider all international cricket and Ajmal took 120 wickets; his nearest rival was a distant second with 84.

Indeed, Ajmal has excelled in all three formats, a versatility that sets him apart from other current international bowlers. With doosras and teesras produced at will, he has been an innovator and possibly a bluffer. He bowls at the death but doesn't bowl defensively. Ajmal tosses the ball in the air, daring a batsman to guess its flight and turn, mesmerising spectators and even his opponent. These are ancient arts with a modern twist.

Saeed Ajmal is a jewel in the crown of the modern game. He is an entertainer with the stats to prove that he deserves top billing. Perhaps Ajmal's failing is that he represents an unfashionable cricket nation? Whatever the explanation, the ICC's expert panel has reached an inexpert conclusion and done little for the credibility of the awards. Including Ajmal now would be a token gesture. In a sport that the administrators have carved out for batsmen, the art of bowling is a loser's game.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by MD on (September 15, 2012, 10:21 GMT)

@dsig3...... hai man what r u talking about? Ajmal got wckts on spin friendly picthes then wat about philander? he got wickts on seaming and firm tracks where balls swirls here and there every time............. do,t live in fool's paradise and accepts wat is rite....

Posted by NasirAli Khan on (September 13, 2012, 16:58 GMT)

Pakistan in myopinionnwill Beverly lucky if it goes beyond the quarter final stage inmthebT 20 Tournament . Australia is at the bottom of the T20s Tournament and they very nearly won the series against Pakistan . The real problem is one, Team Selection and two Playerselection for the matches. What a blunder it was to play nonerformers for Yearssuch as Shoaib Malik andImran Nazir. Iin Srilankawewillhave to stack our bowling with fast bowlers.wedo not have a wicket keeper who Can Cope with fast bowling .

Posted by Azhar Ali on (September 13, 2012, 12:49 GMT)

Why does the PCB not appoint competent Selectors ? Also , in recent years the continuing policy of PCB appears to be for selections to keep on playing a game of musical chairs . Thereisva group of twenty / twenty-five players , from this group for persisting non performance the playersn are rested for a few months and then brought back on the persisting non performance of other players from this same group . New talent is rarely developed or encouraged . Also , very importantly, the PCB does not focus for player selection Nationally . Unless the Selection. system becomes fair, transparent and merit based the Pakistan cricketbwill continue to flounder and we will continue to sink to lower depths.

Posted by Irfan Naqvim on (September 13, 2012, 10:35 GMT)

Hafeez made a big mistake not to include Samiin the 2nd and 3rd T 20 . At these two matches the wickets were seeming and it wouldhavebeenimpossible for the Australians to hit out at hs bowling the way did to all thePakistani bowlers (other than Ajmal ) . The pitches in SriLanka will be fast.. Seamers will thrive . However , qualitywicketkeeping will be needed.. Thanks to thePakstani selectors, We don't have avqualitywicket keeper . Possibly the worst wicketkeeper of any side in the world .

Posted by Faisal Butt on (September 12, 2012, 7:23 GMT)

226 comments till now? WOW.. hey ICC r u sleeping in the cave? See how people are discussing abut him (Ajmal).. some jealous some fan but they are here..... Well he already WON the AWARD no need for ICC recognition..... He is at his BEST....

Posted by kathir on (September 12, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

Dear PAK fans, before UAE series Against AUS, Please look your comments posted for players selection. Every one needed Imran Nazir, Razzak and no one supported Kamran Akmal. But Akmal performed wel, Now all are roaring that these guys to be dropped. You guys should know about cricket, the success of gams is not depends on an indiviudal player performance and all 11 players should contribute their best in a match for success. But it is not possible in all the matches, success and failiures are common for all. How can you guys decide a palyer ability in just two T20 matches. You just support your team, but not suppose to criticise team selection blindly. The selectors can select only 15 players only and they have more knowledge in cricket than us.

Posted by Aquil Siddiqui on (September 11, 2012, 20:05 GMT)

In Pakistan T20 team squad, there are questions about few players. First one is Imran Nazeer a total failure in Dubai 2012 series, we like to see Ahmed Shehzad in his place. Second one is Shoaib Malik, we want Asad Shafiq in his place. Third one is Abdul Razzaq, we want Hammad Azam in his place. Hafeez should change his position from opener to one down and let Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad should open the inning. Bowling attack should be 1. Ummer Gul 2. Suhail Tanweer 3. M. Hafeez 4. Shahid Afridi 5. Saeed Ajmal. So the team should be: 1. Ahmed Shehzad 2. N. Jamshed 3. M. Hafeez 4. U. Akmal 5. Asad Shafiq 6. K. Akmal 7. Hammad Azam 8. Shahid Afridi 9. Suhail Tanweer 10.Umer Gul 11.Saeed Ajmal Reserves 12.Shoaib Malik 13.Aizaz Cheema 14.Junaid Khan 15.Raza Hasan 16.Imran Ferhat

Posted by babar rauf on (September 11, 2012, 16:27 GMT)

Ajmal should have been included in the awards....those who are doubtfull against his bowling action should look behind and see that ICC has cleared his action....so no problem in that.

Posted by Asad ali Khan on (September 11, 2012, 12:46 GMT)

Who is currently theSelector forthe Pakistan Team ? Can he explain the rationale for selection of Imran Nazir and Shoaib Malik ? These two are the major contributors for the humiliation inflicted by the Australians on thePakistan T20Team . The captains allso to blame for 1) selecting these two to play and 2) in giving bowling to himself too early in the second match and to ShoaibMalik in the third match. If we want to avoid humiliation we should rename ourTeam fortheT 20 Championship .

Posted by kathir on (September 11, 2012, 12:09 GMT)

If you have world class bowlers, then why should your team in 4th and 6th palce in test and one day respectively? We defeated your team 5 times in world cup and last world & Asia cup matches. Your team can win some matches in U.A.E. only with support of Pithc and Asian Fans.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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