Pakistan news September 3, 2015

There is room for me in limited overs - Ajmal

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Saeed Ajmal: "I never wanted to retire in obscurity as I have done enough for Pakistan to win matches singlehandedly." © AFP

Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal has dismissed speculations of retirement, insisting he's still a "good limited-overs bowler", even as chief selector Haroon Rasheed said he was looking forward to "judge him" in the national T20 main round beginning next week in Rawalpindi.

Ajmal, who completed his county stint with Worcestershire recently, felt he had "two years of competitive cricket" left in him. "I never wanted to retire in obscurity as I have done enough for Pakistan to win matches singlehandedly," Ajmal told ESPNcricinfo. "I want to retire with respect and honour. I will definitely sit with the selectors and discuss my future plan with them."

Ajmal has seen his career nosedive ever since he was banned from international bowling in September last year. He remodelled his action - it was cleared five months after he was banned - but his bowling was shorn of its earlier menace.

He returned less than impressive numbers for Worcestershire as well, having played nearly an entire season for 16 wickets at an average of 51.25. Ajmal's fallow phase coincided with the rise of Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar, who have cornered Pakistan's spin-bowling spots.

"Obviously I needed some time to settle down with my bowling action," Ajmal said. "I could have persisted for the national selection earlier but it might have been a risky case as we have seen [Mohammad] Hafeez is reported again after been cleared. So it's a matter of getting things right and wait for the right time."

Ajmal didn't play a single international till he was nearly 31, but he made up for that over the next few years, stacking up more than 400 wickets across formats. While at the height of his powers, he was even offered Pakistan's T20 captaincy, but he declined, reckoning he was better as a "team player."

"Cricket is cruel sometimes but I always said one can't relax," Ajmal said. "People forget the good and make the bad part our defining feature. There are ups and downs in cricket and you can't deny the fact every day is a new day and you can't be taking five or ten wickets in every match. We are human and its natural to have good days and bad days.

"Regardless of being reported, there were odds that I might have faced a dip in form, could have struggled taking wickets with previous action as well and then what? Actually it's not really a case that I am not effective, it's a matter of form and confidence that I just need to hit and I have started to get flow.

"I know I am not able to get wickets in four-day cricket maybe because the pitches [in England] are green, soft and it rains a lot but at the same time I am still a better limited-overs bowler and taking wickets in the shorter format. I was assured that I will be considered and won't be discarded. I also understand that Yasir and Zulfi are doing very well and I don't want to dislodge their place but I think there is some room for me in limited-overs cricket and I will prove that in the T20 cup in Pakistan."

Rasheed acknowledged Ajmal's persistence and said he was ready to assess him. He said the doors were never shut on any player, including Ajmal, but there was a yardstick in place by which he would be judged. "I understand Ajmal has been a No. 1 bowler and has been a great servant for Pakistan cricket and we never wanted to discard him. But we want an effective Ajmal and we are always open for any discussion with him."

Ajmal, who will turn 38 next month, will be playing for Faisalabad Region under Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq. He will have at least five group matches to impress the selectors - who will be monitor the performances of the players for the upcoming Zimbabwe series starting from September 27.

"We are not asking him to retire or stay away but he needs to realise the situation realistically where he stands and what is the requirement," Rasheed said. "We have created such an environment for anyone to come to us and discuss with us about anything. But at the same time he has a opportunity to play in the T20 cup next week and there we will consider his performance."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 10, 2015, 7:39 GMT

    I suggest that as Ajmal has changed his action now, therefore he needs to develop new ball. In my view his action is perfect for a carum ball. He should make the ball go away from right handed batsman using a carum ball.

  • Dummy4 on September 6, 2015, 15:29 GMT

    He has an amazing haul of wickets - 400 is very impressive and extremely difficult to achieve. Ajmal is trying hard to make a comeback. But a corrected action always plays havoc with a spinner and I am yet to see anyone return as lethal as before. I feel bad for Ajmal. But more than cricket being cruel, I find some Pakistani fans are being crueler. It hurts to read lines such as " please go away; retire.... etc". This man gave it his all for your country. Please show him the respect that he deserves.

  • Dummy4 on September 6, 2015, 9:22 GMT

    he is very good bowler still now for pak team

  • Naved on September 5, 2015, 16:36 GMT

    Agree with an earlier comment that it is indeed time for him to move on into a mentor's role. So should others like like him. To name the few as Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Hafeez etc

  • asad on September 4, 2015, 19:01 GMT

    The way I see it this is how Pakistan should manage their spinners: Yasir Shah-test & ODI, Zulfiqar Babar-test & t20, Saeed Ajmal-ODI & t20 (if he has good form), Imad Wasim- test, ODI & t20 (he's an all rounder so he can add depth to batting & bowling in any format he plays). The only way I can see Ajmal back in the test team is if Wasim is allowed to replace Shafiq in the test team & simultaneously Zulfiqar's test form goes down. If Wasim bowls decently(doesn't have to be very good since he can make up with runs from his bat) then Pakistan will want to drop Zulfiqar to bring in Ajmal so that they have a complete spin attack (leg spin- Yasir Shah, left arm spin- Imad Wasim, off spin- Saeed Ajmal).

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2015, 16:35 GMT

    Ajmal, you had done immense service to Pakistan cricket.

    Time has come to hang the player's jerseys of yours and don a mentor's outfits and hat. I'm sure there will be dozens of boys waiting in the wings to get a chance to play for the country. Look at them. Pick the ones with the greatest potential. And groom them to step into your big boots.

    I can assure you as a retired professor that the joys of one's wards doing far far better than what one ever did, is indescribable. That pleasure is immeasurable. Look for opportunities to savour that. You will never regret.

  • Sanjeev on September 4, 2015, 14:14 GMT

    Is he playing a selector now? just to select himself in the team

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2015, 14:14 GMT

    It is already over for him. He has to accept it.Seeing him bowl again on international stage will be a huge surprise

  • Cricinfouser on September 4, 2015, 12:22 GMT

    Rocky said: "Its not about how hard you can hit; but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward". Ajmal and Rocky both seem to be cut from the same cloth.

    R E S P E C T.

  • Tom on September 4, 2015, 10:50 GMT

    To me its a dumb rule of arm extension. On green wickets seamer has advantage, On Australian wickets fast bowlers are good, On spin tracks a traditional spinner play havoc but on batting tracks these kind of bowling works than why not. But since this is a rule now so we have to live with it. Ajmal was a great bowler but he is wrong here. He is not representing the PCB but a country and he didn't play for free. He has to remember that the person who has the best chance of winning a match for a country has more right to play. If you consider the former glory days than many seniors never retire which is sadly the case with our cricket with only few exceptions. Ajmal has given a chance and considering his age he should consider retiring and look for coaching jobs. Perhaps that's one thing he can ask for PCB to arrange few farewell matches and a last international game for him. These are harsh words but they are true. There is a always a chance that he might go back and get banned again.