Pakistan v England 2011-12 January 6, 2012

Ajmal to unveil special delivery against England


Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistan offspinner, has confirmed he will unveil the "special delivery" he has been working on during Pakistan's upcoming Test series against England in the UAE. Ajmal had said in August, before Pakistan's tour of Zimbabwe, that he was saving the variation for the England series, and has now said he will try it but will revert to his existing variations if it does not work.

"I am working on a special delivery," he said at Pakistan's training camp in Lahore. "I won't tell you about it but you will know it when you see it. If it does not prove to be reliable then I will shift my focus back to the deliveries that have brought me success and I will keep that variation for the next series."

Ajmal was the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2011, with 50 wickets from eight games at an average of 23.86, and was a key factor in Pakistan winning five of those Tests. He took 18 wickets during Pakistan's last series in the UAE, against Sri Lanka in October-November last year, and said he recognised he would have an important role to play against England.

"We are going fully prepared and are working on special plans for their batsmen. I am aware of the weight of responsibility on me and am ready for it. In Dubai, the ball does break on the second and third day so hopefully I can play an important role. In Abu Dhabi it's difficult because it's a batting track."

Much of Ajmal's success in 2011 accrued from the inability of batsmen to read his doosra. Often in games, Ajmal bowled almost as many balls that turned the other way as regular offbreaks, leading to some apprehensions about him going the way of Saqlain Mushtaq in losing the ability to bowl his stock delivery. He also bowls with a flatter trajectory than most offspinners, but said that was because he was not comfortable flighting the ball.

"If I bowl with flight I cannot bowl well. If I bowl at a quicker speed I can then use variations in pace. If I take 90% of my wickets with the doosra why should I not bowl it? Whether you bowl a doosra or an offbreak, the ball should be bowled on the right line and one should take a wicket with it."

Ajmal's style of bowling is in stark contrast to England's offspinner Graeme Swann's, which is based on beating the batsman in the air and repeatedly landing his stock delivery on the right length. Though Swann took just 27 wickets in the eight Tests he played in 2011, he remains the highest-ranked spinner in the ICC Test rankings, and Ajmal said there would be healthy competition between the two of them through the series. "Swann is a good bowler and has even been the No. 1 bowler in the world. He has his own variety, I have my own."

Pakistan lost just one Test in 2011, and have won their last three Test series, though two of those have been against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Ajmal, though, pointed out that his best performances of the year had come against stronger opposition.

"Whomever you play against, you have to work for your wickets. Sri Lanka are a top team and I was Man of the Series against them. West Indies [against whom Ajmal took 17 wickets in two Tests] are not a bad team either - we have never beaten them in an away series. Bangladesh was not that good a team but only nine of my wickets came against them."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 9, 2012, 21:04 GMT

    now a days spinners dont last very long. Swan's magic also seems to be fading. Wonder how long Ajmal will last. Hope his special delivery is effective.

  • Abdullah on January 9, 2012, 11:05 GMT

    hope Ajmal's Teesra is as good as his Doosra.

  • Dummy4 on January 9, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    though England is a number 1 team, but Pak is totally unpredictable and currently they are in very good form. Ajmal is surely the man to watch this series...

  • Dummy4 on January 9, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    No doubt Ajmal is the best off spinner as of now. Abdur Rehman adds good variety. Hafees is excellent as an all rounder. may be the best spin attack in the world. i am not sure if England can cope with the best spin attack in the world.

  • Martin on January 9, 2012, 8:31 GMT

    @RandyOZ; wombat 4 says it was 6/66 not 6/76. Aus even worse than I thought, and they were bad enough. My bad.

  • Paul on January 8, 2012, 23:14 GMT

    @RandyOz You do give us all a laugh. Lyon isn't even the second best spinner in Australia at the moment, let alone the world. I'd even rank Clarke ahead of him right now. I would agree that Ajmal is the best spinner in world cricket at the moment, Swann having lost the magic he had 18 months ago. Ashwin will probably push Ajmal over the next 12-18 months, especially as he will only be bowling in India. I would like to see Imran Tahir do well, although his temperament looks a bit "iffy".

  • bob on January 8, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    I love saeed ajmak but I have been hearing him say this for a while now and his mystery delivery is probably a delivery that is already known. The other thing could be is that he is trying to create doubt in the mind of the opposition by claiming that he has created a new delivery.

  • Martin on January 8, 2012, 21:56 GMT

    @RandyOZ - you are so new here that you don't even remember Swann at Adelaide 2010. Why don't you tell us a bit more about Adelaide? You know - the 2nd Test of the 2010/11 Ashes Series? Here are some memory joggers for you; Day 5 began with Aus on 4/238. The match ended 20 overs later after Australia collapsed losing 6 for 76 in those 20 overs. Swann took 3 for 24 in the 6 overs and 1 ball he bowled that morning. His 2nd Innings figures were 5/91. If Swann is "well down the list" then Aus batsmen must be so far "down the list" that they are off the page. To be honest we're not really sure why we're replying - your comments are so ludicrous that we don't know whether to laugh or cry. Please publish.

  • Ahmed on January 8, 2012, 20:14 GMT

    What is the Cricket in 3D view of Englishmen and Australians? Ans: If their favorite batsmen can score off of him the bowler is fine but if he gets them out, like Murali or Saeed Ajmal, the bowler is chucking..

  • Asad on January 8, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    Gonna be a great contest between these two spinners, I'd say Ajmals' got his nose in front just because he adds that extra dimension of being a 'mystery' off-spinner, which can play in the mind of any batsmen. Swann is too one dimensional. No doubt both spinners are the best in the world but my prediction is on Ajmal being more affective than Swann.

  • No featured comments at the moment.