West Indies v Pakistan, 2nd Test, St Kitts, 5th day May 24, 2011

Richards concerned by Ajmal's doosra


Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistan offspinner, has had his bowling action called into question by Viv Richards. Ajmal was the Man of the Series for his 17 wickets in two Tests against West Indies, but concerns have been raised over the legality of his action.

"Let me put it as mildly and as diplomatically as it can be put," Richards told ESPNcricinfo. "When you look at bowling actions for offspinners in the world at present, the [15 degree] rule made by the ICC has bred what we've seen this series. I wouldn't be blatant as some others, but the rules have helped the freaky stuff we have at present. It accommodates doosras and things we see like that."

The decision to allow a bend in the arm up to 15 degrees was introduced after biomechanical experts found the majority of bowlers had a minor flex in their actions. It is felt, however, that some offspinners struggle to deliver the doosra within those limits. Richards is the latest to voice concern over Ajmal's action, with former fast-bowler Michael Holding and veteran West Indian journalist Tony Cozier having spoken out on the doosra during the course of the series.

Though West Indies may feel uneasy about Ajmal, they also batted woefully against Pakistan's other spinners. During the 196-run defeat at St Kitts, 15 of the 20 wickets fell to spin, with Ajmal taking three in each innings. The batsmen were not much better in the first Test in Guyana, which West Indies won, losing all but three wickets to Pakistan's trio of spinners.

"The problem is that whenever they [West Indies] are confronted by top-class spinners they freeze," Richards said. "It's creating a paranoia and someone needs to ask the batsmen what's needed. I think they need to prepare for the bowlers they are going to face better and watch them more regularly. [At the moment] they just go out and rely on guesswork."

Despite the lost opportunity to win the series, Richards backed the management of the captain Darren Sammy and coach Ottis Gibson. Both had been under intense scrutiny after a poor World Cup and the shambles over Chris Gayle's exclusion and his decision to play in the IPL.

Sammy answered many of his critics with a match haul of seven wickets to deliver victory in Guyana, and Richards felt that performance was crucial to his survival as captain. "What's been on peoples' minds is his contribution to the team as a player," Richards said. "The match in Guyana helped to eradicate some of that stuff. When he was first touted as captain I backed him because I thought he would bring a bit more thought to the role.

"He said the right things about moving the team forward and I backed him to bring camaraderie and togetherness as a leader. Recently his lack of form was concerning people but he silenced that."

His support of Gibson was more reserved but he was happy with the appointment of former opener Desmond Haynes as batting consultant for the series. "I don't doubt [Gibson's] ability as a coach but Ottis needed some help when he started. I felt he needed assistance, as they have done with Desmond Haynes leading on the batting side of things. Ottis can add something to the bowlers, who are in need of help."

Viv Richards was speaking to ESPNcricinfo to promote Fire in Babylon which was released in UK cinemas last Friday but will be out on DVD on June 6.

Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • usman on May 27, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    richards n holding have a point only one offspinner bolwed a doosra without his action being questioned and that was saqlain rest were dubious so if saqlain can do it without the 15 degrees then why cant the others aswell

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2011, 11:21 GMT

    Ajmal's reply to Richards is the picture in this article. He'll let his fingers do the talking ;)

  • shawn on May 26, 2011, 1:48 GMT

    So they can't bat spin, but then choose turning wickets and only play one spinner. Then they complain.

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2011, 23:34 GMT

    Just pathetic comment by Viv. I support Saeed Ajmal on every ground. And if we're talking about fairplay, bend the rules of cricket so that they're favorable to both batsman and bowler and not just batsman. What the hell is wrong with you guys. You want a grill a bowler to such an extent that he just comes and becomes and puppet for a batsman. Just ridiculous!

  • avert on May 25, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    i would like to suggest the following team selection for the series against india;

    T20( Gayle, Simmons, Darren Bravo, Samuels, Kirk Edwards, Dwayne Bravo, Pollard, Sammy, Taylor, Rampaul, & Bishoo)

    ODI ( Gayle, Simmons, Darren Bravo, Deonarine, Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Pollard, Sammy, Rampaul, Roach & Bishoo)

    Test (Gayle, Barath, Darren Bravo, Sarwan, Samuels, Simmons(wk), Dwayne Bravo, Sammy, Rampaul, Roach & Bishoo).

    i think we would need to find a way to play Fidel Edwards in ODI and Test.

  • Chaitanya on May 25, 2011, 23:21 GMT

    The way I see it, bowlers are no longer needed in the game of cricket, according to the general public. Sides should pick eleven batsmen each and then face bowling machines; the side that makes more runs wins and te bowling machines couldbe set to a constant pace to avoid controversy...and Jonathan Swift thought he was the master of satire he he he

  • avert on May 25, 2011, 21:46 GMT

    ajmal may have an action problem, but the fact remains that our batsmen continues to freeze against spin bowling and much work needs to be done in this area. maybe against india we can get lara to also asist our guys with their game in this regard.

    i must applaud ottis for his reccommendation for desmond haynes as batting consultant, i believe it is step in the right direction. i would like to see a fielding coach, and a spin bowling coach to work with bishoo (may be the likes of a shane warn). we must invest in our players if their game is going to improve.

    i hope we will allow lindl simmons to keep in all format of the game to allow the extra batsman to play- he can't do worst than bough. i also would like to see deonarine of guyana back in the team, he has serve west indies cricket well and he is also fit. he is also a more worthy investment than chanderpaul.

    i wish the guys all the best for the upcoming tour.

  • Javed on May 25, 2011, 18:32 GMT

    @Hoque Saiful Islam -@- Dude you're funny. Bernard Bosanquet actually bowled Googly in 1903. ask ur elders. Also, the reverse swing pratcised in 1940's in England with little success. So basically you're so called inventors came way too late in the game. :)

  • imran on May 25, 2011, 15:27 GMT

    Please let's not call the legends sore loosers or lets not hurl abuse at each others. We all olve the beautiful game. We all are lover of cricket here. I myself was a first class cricketer about 19-20 years ago. What I'm trying to say is to make the game more interesting give more to "bowlers". Let's play in uncovered pitches again. But Please make sure Bowlers are bowling not throwing. Dusra, Tisra or whatever ... Please let them bowl it, not throw it. For me strighting of albow is throwing. In the name of making it interesting don't say the "let's have the fielders on horse back". I sure all will understand what I'm trying to say. Qadir, Lacker, Imran, Hadlee or any of those bowlers did not need the 15 degree rule.

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2011, 15:10 GMT

    I guess Australians and Englishmen played Ajmal well. West Indies batsmen are poor against spin yet they prepared pitches which turned. It's a shame that Legendary players like Viv and Holding are questioning action of a player when the batsmen themselves are incapable. Moreover it's an art of bowling and within the legal implications, which is fair considering the dominance of bat in recent years.

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