August 29, 2014

Tests reveal new idiosyncrasies in Ajmal's action

Offspinner may have been gaining unfair advantage in ways hitherto not thought of

And you thought it was only his elbow? © AFP

Things seem to be going from bad to worse for Saeed Ajmal, after reports that initial rounds of testing at the newly ICC-accredited Cricket Australia National Cricket Centre for Cricket in Australia Centre have reportedly not just been solely focused on whether or not he bowls with a greater degree of flex than is permitted due to a "kink" in what bewildered scientists are tentatively labelling an "elbow," but also on a number of other allegedly newly discovered and no less contentious ways and means in which the spinner is suspected of deriving an unfair advantage over batsmen.

"After fresh and prolonged examination of the footage of his testing, during which time the only thing that could be heard in the room was the sound of us all collectively breathing through our mouths, we have revised our suspicions about Mr Ajmal anew," confirmed an excited Geoff Allardice from ICC headquarters in Dubai. "We now have good reason to suspect that the problem is more deep-seated and systemic than we thought." Allardice confirmed that the tests weren't just focusing on Ajmal's doosra anymore, and were instead training their efforts on other aspects of the bowler and his action, which have apparently revealed some interesting insights already.

"For starters," continued Allardice, pointing to a pixellated image on his phone of the Michael Vaughan tweet that may or may not have started it all, "if you look closely here at the point of delivery, anyone can see that the elbow is the least of our worries. Ajmal is clearly also employing what appears to be a human 'hand,' attached to what looks suspiciously like an 'arm,' which in turn rotates on what we understand now to be a so-called 'shoulder joint,' all of which are illegal by association with the elbow."

Consider doing what a lot of young aspiring bowlers are doing these days: having your elbow removed and an iron shower-curtain rod surgically implanted into your arm instead

And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Further examinations, Allardice went on to explain, have revealed that the bowler might also be unfairly using a human "heart" while bowling. Ajmal is suspected of using the muscle to pump blood to the rest of his body, an action that, according to the Cricket Australia National Cricket Centre for Cricket in Australia Centre's chief bowling diagnostician, provides his muscles and organs the necessary fuel they need for him to be able to run up and bowl.

And there are unconfirmed reports that the controversial spinner is also being suspected of using something called a "brain." The ICC is said to be currently investigating the existence of this strange, previously unheard-of organ, with the aim of determining whether the use of it is legal and falls under the purview of fair play.

The game's governing body has nevertheless admitted that it has its task cut out for it, as rumours emerge from some quarters that most, if not all, bowlers use the same organs and limbs as Ajmal does to varying degrees while bowling. "We have a sneaking suspicion, though, that even if the degree of flex in his arm is found to be more or less within the range allowed, Ajmal will eventually be found out to be using his brain and heart more than is permitted," said a hopeful Allardice.

The ICC has also decreed mystery spinners and weird actions in general to be unlawful, and, in a proactive move, come up with the following helpful guidelines for aspiring mystery bowlers:

- Do not be a mystery spinner.

- Remember kids: Just say no. If someone offers to teach you the doosra, scream "stranger danger!" until the threat has subsided. Find a safe place to wait until Ashley Giles comes to get you.

- If you really must insist on being a mystery spinner, at least try not to take so many damn wickets with a mystery ball.

- OMG, if we even so much as hear the word "doosra" again...

- You might want to practise bowling with your arm in a cast or something, you know? Just so you're not able to bend at the elbow while bowling. Or do anything else.

- If that doesn't help, you may consider having your elbow removed and an iron shower-curtain rod surgically implanted into your arm instead. If you still can't bowl properly after that, then you may as well face the fact that maybe cricket isn't the game for you..

- You know, you don't have to be a spinner to be mysterious. There are plenty of other, more legitimate ways of creating a certain aura. You could wear a mask and cape to the team breakfast one morning, say. Or you could just start bowling with a pair of oversize sunglasses with your collar up. Worked well enough for Graeme Swann, didn't it? And he wasn't even a mystery spinner, bless his heart.

- Look, why be a spinner at all? I mean, really? In this day and age? It's like choosing to become a foot soldier when you could just as easily have been a jet pilot and phoned in your bombs and mass destruction from a safe distance and with minimum effort. In other words, a batsman.

- Seriously, what the hell is the matter with you?

- If for some reason you can't help but be a mystery spinner, try at least to have the common sense to be from either India, England, or Australia. This way we don't have to pull you up for being all weird and unplayable and it'll save everyone a lot of grief.

R Rajkumar tweets @roundarmraj