What? Why? How?! Saeed Ajmal…

Published: September 9, 2014
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Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal practises in Sharjah. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal practises in Sharjah. PHOTO: REUTERS Saeed Ajmal must be applauded for all that he has given to the fans of this game. There is no doubt he will be missed. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

As I sit here, I type this in disbelief. 

Saeed Ajmal has been banned.

Read that statement.

Allow it to sink in.

Have you managed to wrap your head around it? Does it hurt? If you’re a cricket lover you can feel the loss. If you’re a Pakistan cricket fan, your world has just been ripped apart and any semblance of world cup victory dreams have now been shattered in front of your very eyes.

Where is the justice in this world? How did the International Cricket Council (ICC) clear him in the past only to go back on their previous statements? Are we resigned to the fate that every time Pakistan cricket finds a little magic, it is taken away? Saeed Ajmal was unplayable because his deliveries were genius. We’ve heard the commentators, the statisticians and the players of teams the world over praise him, mesmerised by his spell and skill, a skill now deemed illegal by the International Cricket Council.

How will Pakistan ever recover?

I cannot quite gather what the ICC’s intentions were. Saeed Ajmal made his international debut in 2008. It has been six years – six baffling years where the enigma that is Ajmal managed to skyrocket to the number one ODI bowling ranking. No easy feat, considering the ICC has managed to completely tip the scales in favour of batsmen.

Cricket has become impossible for the bowler. Boundaries have been brought in, power plays, fielding restrictions and pancake pitches have been every bowler’s nightmare. Yet they persevere, they find turn, they pray for dew, they find a spark, some form of magic.

In Perth 2009, the tests revealed Ajmal on an average straightens his arm about eight degrees, well within the ICC tolerance limit. Five years later, in Brisbane in 2014, the ICC claimed that all his deliveries exceed the tolerance limit of 15 degrees. Bowlers are now being tested under new protocols but such a huge contrast between two results is unnerving. Were the testing procedures used earlier inherently flawed or far too lenient? What changed? What revelation caused the ICC to make such a drastic call and is it fair?

When Ajmal was cleared in 2009, it was under the protocols, which also cleared Muttiah Muralitharan, Shoaib Akhtar, Brett Lee and Harbhajan Singh, amongst others. It appears that these bowlers would have been in serious trouble if they were tested under the new protocols, which in the last few months have suspended Sachithra Senanayake, Kane Williamson and Saeed Ajmal.

Is anyone safe? Being a bowler is hard enough; being a spinner in today’s cricket climate and you might as well send in your resignation.

Pakistan seems to be jinxed with their bowlers and their world cup campaigns. In 2007, the bowling duo of, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, were banned for testing positive for drugs.

In 2011, the still painful spot fixing scandal saw Mohammad Amir take his leave and now Pakistan risks losing their “secret weapon” Ajmal for the 2015 World Cup. While it seems that he can reapply at any time, the ICC’s decision has left many Pakistani fans more sceptical of the system in place. Moreover, will the Pakistan Cricket Board cause ruckus or will they simply take this lying down? The PCB celebrated their status as the “fourth” nation after the big three but will their word hold any real weightage?

So many unanswered questions, so much doubt, a barrage of emotions.

For many fans of the sport, cricket is their first love, the kind you’ll never forget. Today my heart breaks for the game, for the player whose magic lit up stadiums, for a country and for a team that was looking to relive the glory of 1992 on Australian soil. To adorn that green jersey, to play the game and to dream has now become a thing of the past. Saeed Ajmal must be applauded for all that he has given to the fans of this game, our saviour, the comedian, there is no doubt he will be missed.

Hadeel Obaid

Hadeel Obaid

A cricket lover and textile manufacturer, who is patriotic, loud and opinionated. She tweets as @hadouken51 (twitter.com/hadouken51)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Munna

    What sort of pathetic mentality is Pakistanis suffering…? Why they think always as the victims and the whole world conspiring to pin them down..? Can’t you people just take it as another wrong act which was somewhat able to perpetrate for so long. Whether the player is caught on the first day or the last day of his career, he/she is just doing something wrong. It isn’t easy to find the wrong in someone, it takes time and new insight. I’m sure Ajmal will improve his action and back in the game, no point in lamenting like Islam is in danger from others always.Recommend

  • malik

    Ajmal should have bowled with a different action during testing (like he did -as per Stuart Broad – during his Perth testing). This time, ma y be, he thought he can get away with it, probably not aware that the protocol and the parameters have changed.

    Is anyone safe ? Nope. Chuckers will get the batsmen and commentators talking. And the Umpires.

    If he is a Pakistani, they will give him a long rope, as no one wants to be accused of being racist. But eventually, he will get banned.Recommend

  • Religulous

    Who want to play cricket…….our main aim is to preach religion in the field.Recommend

  • Arjun Reddy

    “The PCB celebrated their status as the “fourth” nation after the big three ”

    who died and made you the fourth nation(is that pakistani invention too),thank your lucky stars that he was allowed to play 6yrs of cricket to begin with,he is just another chucker who got caught.Recommend

  • Waseem Sarwar

    I am wondering how Ashwin keeps on bowling. He off spin is more controversial than Ajmal’s doosra. I also wonder how Murli had played if these new regulations were placed when he was playing.Recommend

  • water bottle

    Why can’t Pakistanis be more honest in their day to day living.

    Why always cheat and then lose and then cry.

    And to top that you claim to be blessed and chosen people and try to convert others.Recommend

  • Critical

    Regarding the contrasting results in 2009 and 2014,a true cricket follower do know that a bowler constantly changes the action so that the batsman doesnt start recognizing his guile..

    No bowler can ever say that he had the same action during his retirement stage right from the day he debuted on international arena…If someone says that he must be a baseball pitcher not a cricket bowlerRecommend

  • Pin2

    What??? A whole new blog on Ajmal’s ban and no mention of BCCI, ICC and conspiracy against one strong Islamic nation.

    Recommend

  • Prashant

    The ban on Murali should never have been revoked as his bowling action was indeed like a javelin thrower, I did not see much wrong in the way Ajmal bowls and yes, he is one of the best spinners in the contemporary times.

    I am not sure if Ajmal would be as lucky as Murali was, those were different days when there was camaraderie among the Asian cricket nations who were able to put the ICC under pressure to have their decision revoked. The Ahmad Shehzad episode has not helped the cause either.Recommend

  • razzmazz

    Who cares? Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Can you show me any picture or video of Saeed Ajmal bowling the Doosra without a full armed sleeve?
    Full arm sleeves hide the bend of the arm. Murali was the only one who bowled a Doosra without full arm sleeves.Recommend

  • Srinavasan

    Indian Cricket League showing its true colors, taking away all Pakistans bowlers one by one. Recommend

  • Sudhindra

    Ehhhh ???Recommend

  • Michael Hall

    Pity about Ajmal and hope he gets back soon. Have to say I agree with the sentiment that balance between bat and ball is with bat at moment and ICC & MCC need to be careful that we do not force wonderful spinners out of the game.Recommend

  • Guest

    Way too many Pak haters here! Almost looks like an indian website to meRecommend

  • Muhammad Fahad

    Pakistanis do things and get caught, they should learn from England & India :v
    Just buy everything dude dont cheat there are more than 12 cameras on the field now a days , media is there to give the hype :/ so just pay there share n do what ever you want :x poor Pakistanis ….Recommend

  • James

    There is a video on U Tube on Murali’s bowling action.His bowling arm was strapped so that he could not bend it and he was asked to bowl.Inspite of the fact that his arm was strapped his action still looked as if he was throwing.Conclusion is that he has a naturally bent arm and his deliveries are perfectly legal.The man who conducted the video test was Ravi Shastri.So dont cast aspersions on Murali or the ICC.Murali is indeed a great bowler of all timesRecommend

  • M.Saeed

    If they continue getting our danger-men in cricket out, it proves their fears of them. Therefore, logically, they have accepted defeat. Otherwise, 15 degree or any degree bend is not of their own making. They have acquired the skill through sheer training and practice.
    Can you out-law the circus people who train and bend back ward and perform various feats on twisted limbs?Recommend

  • abhi

    No worries, being a muslim he is assured of a place in heaven.Recommend