Saeed Ajmal’s international career is all but over after his controversial rant against the International Cricket Committee (ICC) and Harbhajan Singh.
The outspoken spinner had his contract suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) last week for blasting world cricket’s governing body over the way it handles illegal bowling actions.
Ajmal also claimed earlier this month that India spin bowler Harbhajan has a suspect action, and fast bowlers should be assessed too.
PCB Shaharyar Khan confirmed the sanctions against the 38-year-old, saying: “We have taken the minimum action on the violation of discipline. We have suspended his contract, stopped releasing his salary and asked him to explain his comments.”
Ajmal had been Pakistan’s chief match-winner in the past five years until he was sidelined over doubts over his own bowling action. He took 178 Test, 184 one-day and 85 Twenty20 wickets before being reported last August.
Khan added: “We supported him a lot, invited Saqlain (Mushtaq) to correct his action, so his comments we did not support him were sad.”
Ajmal was given a ban as his elbow exceeded the 15-degree limit allowed under ICC rules. He remodelled his action under Mushtaq but took just one wicket in two one-dayers and a Twenty20 match against Bangladesh in April.
As a result, he was not selected for the current series against England but retained his ‘B’ category status in the latest PCB central contract list, until his latest outburst.
Ajmal said in an interview with Geo Super: “Why just target the off-spinners? Why not the left-arm spinners, leg-spinners or fast bowlers?
“I have been through this bowling assessment process so many times and have watched and studied this issue so closely. I can vouch that if tests were carried out, there would be many other bowlers whose actions would exceed the 15 degrees extension limit.”
Ajmal then pointed the finger of suspicion at Harbhajan, adding: “If they put Harbhajan through a proper assessment test now, I can safely tell you he will exceed the limit.”
Then questioning the timing of the umpires’ decisions, Ajmal said: “At times it makes no sense to me. They cleared my bowling action in 2009 on medical grounds and after six years, they say it is illegal.
“I find it strange that Bilal Asif plays his first two ODIs, doesn’t take many wickets, and no one reports his action. As soon as he takes five wickets, his action is reported by the umpires. They find fault with just two deliveries. I find this a joke.”
Ajmal alleged the reason his action was investigated was because he has a deformity in his right wrist and elbow as a result of an accident suffered years ago. He reckoned the ICC were “unjustified” in asking him to modify his action without regard to his medical condition.
“If, through any operation, I can have a normal hand, I will do it. But to force me to change my action despite my medical condition is unjustified. Even in 2009, my action was not within the 15 degrees limit.
“But I used my fingers and wrist more to bowl the doosra, not my elbow. It is an art, and if the ICC continues with its crackdown, it will kill the art of offspin bowling.”
Ajmal felt the ICC’s regulations on illegal actions were making the sport more geared towards the batsmen. “They are arming the batsmen with heavier bats with meatier blades; the rules in ODIs and T20 cricket are weighed in their favour,” he said.
“What do they expect us off-spin bowlers to do? Take a beating? Why can’t we be allowed to do something different to make it an even battle?”
There was more Pakistani disciplinary problems last week when Umar Akmal was left out of the squad for the three-match Twenty20 series against England on disciplinary grounds.
The 25-year-old was allegedly involved in an incident involving the mistreatment of women while playing a first-class game in Hyderabad. Akmal was issued a showcause notice requiring him to appear before the selection committee.
Umar was also dropped from the one-day team following the 2015 World Cup after head coach Waqar Younis cited a lack of discipline.