Pakistan news April 14, 2012

Ajmal optimistic of playing till 2015 World Cup

Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistan offspinner, has said he will ensure that there are enough quality spinners to replace him in the national side when he retires. Ajmal, the top-ranked spinner in the ICC rankings in both Tests and ODIs, also said that he was optimistic of playing till the 2015 World Cup.

"I hope by the time I am ready to walk out, another Ajmal would be ready to take my place," Ajmal told ESPNcricinfo. "I will ensure this and it's my responsibility to do so. Pakistan has very talented players and there is no dearth of spin bowlers. There are a lot of good spinners. (Abdur) Rehman is playing and Raza Hasan is a talented boy heading in the right direction."

Ajmal, 34, made a late entry into international cricket at the age of 30 but has earned a reputation for being one of the best spinners in the world. Ajmal didn't play his first Test till he was almost 32 but has since picked up 107 wickets in 20 Tests. He said that he did not worry about having lost so much time before he got the chance to play international cricket.

"Age definitely plays a key role but I have no regret for being late into international cricket," Ajmal said. "Who knows if I had played earlier I might not have been the same Ajmal. What I am today is more important for me.

"I am currently 34 and I know my age won't let me play perhaps more than three years. But it's also a matter of fitness that can actually extend a player's life. I am optimistic that I can play at least till the 2015 World Cup before calling my time from the game."

Ajmal hoped that he had inspired enough young players to take up spin bowling. He is also planning to launch a cricket academy next year in his city Faisalabad. Ajmal recently wrecked England with his doosras and off-breaks and finished with 24 wickets in the three-Test series in the UAE.

"A lot of bowlers around the world are so much keen about the doosra and I love to help. Being a quality spin bowler is tough and it takes time to obtain results. You need to be very patient.

"A spin bowler normally does not inspire kids as compared to a fast bowler who creates an instant impact with the youngsters who want to play cricket. But I think I have inspired a lot of youngsters to play the game."

Edited by Abhishek Purohit

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent