Australia v Pakistan 2009

Saeed Ajmal reported for suspect action

Alex Brown

April 26, 2009

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Saeed Ajmal celebrates his first ODI wicket, Pakistan v India, Super Four, Asia Cup, Karachi, July 2, 2008
Umpires have taken notice of Saeed Ajmal's bowling action © AFP

Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistan offspinner, has expressed surprise at being reported for a suspect action, and believes Shane Watson might have played a role in drawing the umpires' attention to his doosra. Ajmal suspected Watson spoke with Asad Rauf and Billy Bowden about his bowling action during the second one-day international at the Dubai Sports City Stadium; two days after he had befuddled Australia's batsmen with a series of doosras in a spell of 2-19.

Whether prompted or not by the Australian allrounder, the umpires found enough cause for concern to report Ajmal's action, making him the second off-spinner to be cited for a doosra in a fortnight. Johan Botha, the South African limited overs vice-captain, was reported after the fourth ODI against Australia in Port Elizabeth, and will have his action tested at the University of Western Australia this week.

"They told me in the first game some of my doosras had [a] little elbow bend," Ajmal told Cricinfo. "I was very surprised. My first-class debut was in 1996 and this has not happened before. I think Watson was talking [with] umpires about this. He was speaking with them and when the match finished the umpires said there is a problem. [But] I am not disappointed. I am playing tomorrow [in the third ODI]. It is not a problem."

Pakistan's coach, Intikhab Alam, was more critical of the process that resulted in Ajmal being reported after the second ODI against Australia. Describing the spinner as a "gutsy young man", Alam questioned the handling of the matter by the umpires.

"Ajmal has played against four countries and nobody raised any finger on his action and suddenly this decision comes," he told AFP. "I think they [ICC] are lacking consistency in this process. He bowled exceptionally well and suddenly they decided that he has a problem with his action."

Rauf and Bowden, along with off-field officials Zameer Haider and Nadeem Ghauri, submitted a report to the ICC in which it was stated that, having monitored Ajmal's action over the two ODIs in Dubai, there was sufficient concern for it to be scrutinised further. Ajmal, the ICC and the PCB will be sent footage of the bowler's action, and Ajmal is required to present himself for testing by an ICC-approved biomechanist within 21 days.

The latest report comes as Botha prepares to fly to Perth for re-examination on his contentious doosra. The citing of two off-spinners in a fortnight has prompted speculation of an ICC crackdown on doosras, but Alam was confident Ajmal would be cleared and free to bowl the delivery in future matches.

"Murali bowls such a delivery and he was cleared, Harbhajan was cleared, and there is no difference between these two and Ajmal," Alam said. "I don't agree that Ajmal bowls a different doosra, there is only one kind of doosra. Ajmal has hyper-mobility in his arm and I hope everything goes well for him."

Ajmal can continue to play for cricket until the tests on his action are conducted. If, during the examination, he bowls a single delivery with an elbow flexion in excess of 15 degrees, he will be suspended and ordered to undertake remedial work on his delivery motion.

Meanwhile, Nathan Hauritz, the Australian off-spinner, said he was experimenting with his own version of the doosra in the nets. "I just think it takes a lot of time, a lot of practice, just trying to get all the body parts right and in the right place," Hauritz told AAP. "I try to practice it two or three times a week, about 10 balls, because it gets very painful, my body's not used to it."

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

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