PSL 2017 news February 14, 2017

Ajmal banks on PSL to make international comeback

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Saeed Ajmal's remodelled action lacked fizz in 2015 © AFP

Saeed Ajmal, who has not played international cricket since April 2015, hopes that the second season of the Pakistan Super League will be a stepping stone towards a comeback. Ajmal, who injured himself during training last season and played only six matches in Islamabad United's run to the title, has been recruited as a full-time player by the same team this season. That Pakistan haven't found a quality offspinner in the last two years has motivated Ajmal to impress in the PSL and return to the international scene.

"It's unfortunate that we haven't had an offspinner since I was out, which is why I believe I still have a chance to make it," Ajmal told ESPNcricinfo in Dubai. "I am working hard to ensure this PSL is a turning point for me. T20 cricket is difficult with lots of ups and downs, but I am ready, and hopefully this event will be a step to the national team. Pakistan desperately need an offspinner and nobody seems to have appeared to fill my gap for years. I have not given up and all I can do is hard work."

Ajmal last played for Pakistan in Bangladesh in April 2015 after he remodelled his action, which was deemed illegal in September 2014. In December 2014, he pulled out of the 2015 World Cup, indicating that his remodelled action needed further work. His action was cleared by the ICC in February, and he was picked in all three formats for the Bangladesh tour in April. In his first match on a return to the side, Ajmal conceded 74 runs in 10 overs for no wickets, the most he has leaked in an ODI. Ajmal took 1 for 49 in the second ODI before missing the third match. He then went wicketless in the one-off T20, which Bangladesh won by seven wickets, before being overlooked for the two-Test series.

Following Ajmal's suspension, the PCB decided to crack down on suspect bowling actions in domestic cricket. They revived their biomechanics lab in Lahore and extensively tested the actions of offspinners in the country, and found that a number of them had suspect bowling actions. When asked about this, Ajmal said: "It's not because of me. I understand players have tricky actions but it's not my responsibility to get them right. The board has to take up this problem and get it resolved. They have the NCA [National Cricket Academy] and a lot of coaches there. This is the problem as after I was out no offspinner has played for Pakistan, which is a worry as the team needs variation in their combination."

Ajmal's new round-arm action lacked fizz, but he felt that the side did not give him a sizeable run to work his way back. "Actually I never really got a proper chance to develop my new action and that only comes by playing consistently," he said. "Apart from the two[three] Bangladesh matches I did not get a chance, and you can't judge a player by one or two matches."

Ajmal, 39, stressed that form, not age, should be the top priority for selection. "Age probably is a problem in Pakistan," he said. "What exactly you want from a player is performance and if a player is helping the team to win then who cares about the age... I want to perform regardless of the age; I don't really think about it. What I need to do is to stay fit and keep taking wickets."

Ajmal has T20 form on his side. He was the leading wicket-taker in the National T20 Cup held before the PSL, with 20 scalps in nine matches, including a four-wicket haul. Ajmal, however, has not played first-class cricket since his stint with Worcestershire in 2015.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • imran_abbas on February 15, 2017, 19:43 GMT

    Shadab is impressive guy. I hope he can bat well and that be huge plus for Pakistan national. Hassan Khan is also impressive. Billing reminds me of young Micheal Clark. Good batsman all around.

  • samincolumbia on February 15, 2017, 13:52 GMT

    Well said, Milepost. Could not have put it any better myself.

  • evda_cheta on February 15, 2017, 11:00 GMT

    best spin bowler of world from 2009-2013. what a wonderful bowler ajmal was at the time. in 2011 world cup match tendulkar was clueless against him. wonderful bowler.

  • siddharth110575 on February 15, 2017, 10:18 GMT

    Leaving aside the inevitable crackdown on his action, for a few years Ajmal was indeed a top class spinner in all formats. Sadly at this age and with a cleaned up action, returning back to those heights could be a bridge too far. His only hope is PAK dont seem to have a top class offspinner ready for his replacement yet (or at least one hasnt seen any in their international matches). So can he still turn the clock back for a year or two even with say 60-70% effectiveness?

  • cricfan18940279 on February 15, 2017, 7:35 GMT

    Remember, this is the guy who claimed to have Sachin retired.

  •   Comradebaltee007 on February 15, 2017, 5:50 GMT

    Misbah is sticking with aged players like himself, watson, haddin, ajmal and sami etc.... instead of giving chance to some young players....

  •   cricfan69564930 on February 15, 2017, 5:23 GMT

    In addition to my no chucking dream...i forgot to add that the current beamer should not be legal,just to be clear...

  • Jarvis Dubai on February 15, 2017, 5:18 GMT

    I loved watching ajmal bowl , but these days it's like an old boxing champion trying to make a come back , it's a sad sight , batsmen just walk out and smash him ...either allow the " flex " or Mr Ajmal please retire and keep some dignity .

  •   cricfan69564930 on February 14, 2017, 23:38 GMT

    Dear ICC and MCC....Imagine all cricket played with NO laws for chucking...where any ball delivered above waist height was legal--provided it does not bounce twice before the batsman...the point is that world cricket would not have to waste a huge amount of time and money on elbow flex analysis...we would also see more variation in bowling styles...it would also give the bowlers a bit more chance to dominate the bat...and peoples bowling careers would not be ended in a way that hints they never legally got all those wickets...the rulebook for cricket has swollen and become hard for old fans to understand let alone new fans...it is time to simplify cricket's rules

  • BlackCapsBestintheWorld on February 14, 2017, 22:45 GMT

    @CRICFAN89207213 Id say Umar Akmals topped this one. Just barely though

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