Pakistan news September 6, 2012

Pakistan could boycott ICC awards over Ajmal omission

PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf has reopened the debate surrounding Saeed Ajmal's exclusion from the ICC awards shortlists by hinting that Pakistan's players could boycott the awards function, to be held in Colombo on September 15, as a "robust protest". The ICC, responding to the PCB's protest on Monday, had ruled out a rethink and the matter seemed to have ended there.

However, Ashraf's comments, made during an interview to ESPNcricinfo, suggest the issue is still alive for Pakistan. "We are facing a lot of pressure from the public and from our former players to push for his inclusion," Ashraf said. "I think the ICC should check whether the independent jury is coming up with the best name and they should not give away the due right of any player in the world.

"If anyone else has more wickets than Ajmal, then we are ready to withdraw our concern and instead we will support their pick. But this isn't reflecting well of the ICC and they should rectify it.

"Meanwhile we probably have to give a second thought to even boycott the function as a robust protest."

Ajmal was in the longlist for the Test Player of the Year award but missed out when an independent 32-member jury, which included former Pakistan captain Aamer Sohail and Pakistan journalist Majid Bhatti, nominated Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara, South Africa fast bowler Vernon Philander, Australia captain Michael Clarke and South Africa opener Hashim Amla in that category.

Ajmal, 34, took 72 Test wickets between August 4, 2011 and August 6, 2012 - the qualifying period for the award - including 24 at 14.70 as Pakistan swept aside England, the then No. 1 side in the world, 3-0 in January. He has climbed to No. 3 in the ICC Test bowling rankings and is the highest ranked spinner. On Thursday, he was revealed as the top bowler in the ODI rankings.

After the PCB lodged the protest, the ICC refused to reconsider Ajmal's case, saying it had no authority to change the results of the academy. The process was monitored by the independent auditor Ernst & Young, and the longlist was prepared by a five-member Selection Panel headed by Clive Lloyd and included Clare Connor (England), Tom Moody (Australia), Carl Hooper (West Indies) and Marvan Atapattu (Sri Lanka).

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent