Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Shillingford, Marlon Samuels, Kane Williamson, Sachitra Senanayeke – all of them faced the firing squad of ICC for illegal bowling action and the lawmakers have found their recent victim in the form of Saeed Ajmal, the 36 year old Pakistani off-spinner.
On a quest for adding flavor to the mundane off spin many of the bowlers have taken resort to Doosra and similar sort of techniques which raised serious concern among the ICC officials. After prolonged arguments regarding the benchmark of legal bowling action, the 15 degree rule came up in 2004- an easy rule of thumb for determination of “throwing” or “chucking”, with naked eyes.
Ajmal, who has been quite a success in the recent past, was warned before in 2009 for breaking this 15 degree rule. This time he has been banned after he failed the test, conducted in National Cricket centre (Brisbane) and he is suspended until he improves his bowling action.
Although he cited an earlier accident as the root cause behind illegitimate action, the ICC panel is hardly sympathetic. They had to intervene when the elbow extensions went far off the conforming limits (some balls bowled at around 40 degree) in the recent test against Sri Lanka in Galle and they delivered the ultimatum on the 9th of this month.
“A lot of people are born short, fat or slow or lazy or clumsy; they might have a natural defect that stops them from being a professional cricketer, so they are left out. They don’t go and write the rules to get in. This rule has to be stuck to, true and fast”
– the former kiwi skipper Martin Crowe gibed in and supported the decision. He also added that if we had to relax the rules then the standard would shift to 20 to 25 degrees and finally jump to 50 degrees which would render the game an odd mixture of baseball and cricket.
Pakistan Cricket Board, who had decided earlier to raise an appeal to ICC against this ban, also gave up after they realized the lost cause. Ajmal is supposed to join a rehabilitation program on Monday in the National Cricket Academy and he will be joined by Saqlain Mushtaq, who offered to help Ajmal throughout the remedial process. “I will help and support saeed ajmal to the best of my ability if required”-he had tweeted earlier.
Ajmal has also pulled out his name from the domestic T20 competition where he was to perform for Faisalabad Wolves. An Illegal Bowling Action Committee has been formed to guide him in NCA, although they will have to cope up without the aid of bio-mechanic equipments.
One of the leading proponents of Doosra, Ajmal had proved himself to be a deadly weapon in the Pakistan squad. He is the leading wicket taker across all three formats for the past three years. It will indeed be a hard time for him to continue with his lethal deliveries under the norms set up by ICC, once he is reinstated.