Pakistan’s Ajmal withdraws from World Cup
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal ruled himself out of the World Cup on Saturday after the 37-year-old suspended offspinner decided not to go for official testing of his suspect bowling action.
“Ajmal himself withdrew from the official testing which effectively means he has withdrawn from the World Cup,” the Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman Agha Akbar said.
Akbar said Ajmal will hold a news conference in the coming days and will give more details about his decision.
The PCB earlier on Saturday said that only Mohammad Hafeez will visit India next week for unofficial testing of his bowling action while Ajmal will continue to work on his bowling action with former test spinners Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed back home.
Ajmal was suspended in September by the ICC while Hafeez was banned from bowling in international cricket earlier this month after his action was found to be illegal during the first test against New Zealand.
Earlier on Saturday, the PCB said it will send only suspended Mohammad Hafeez to India next week for unofficial testing of his bowling action before applying for ICC’s official testing, while Saeed Ajmal will stay in Pakistan.
Former test spinners Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed, who have worked with Hafeez, agreed that the offspinner should now be tested at an ICC-accredited laboratory in Chennai, India, before going to the world’s governing body for official testing.
Ajmal will continue to work on his remodeled bowling action with Saqlain and a bio-mechanist at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.
Time was fast running out for Ajmal to get into Pakistan’s World Cup squad which is due to be named by Jan. 7. The PCB believes the offspinner needs more time to bowl within the allowed elbow extension of 15 degrees.
Ajmal has been unofficially tested three times at the ICC-accredited laboratory at Loughborough University in England since being suspended, but is yet to bowl within the allowed parameters.
PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said Friday that if Ajmal undergoes official ICC testing — and his bowling action is found illegal — the offspinner faces a ban of two years which means the end of his international career.
“The PCB fully supports Ajmal in his attempt to regularize his action and to return to cricket as Pakistan’s top performer in the future,” the board said in a statement on Saturday.
The PCB also announced that Naveed Akram Cheema has been recalled as team manager for the World Cup. He will replace Moin Khan, who had been both team manager and chief selector, and will still accompany the team to Australia and New Zealand.
Pakistan’s players underwent fitness tests Saturday though injured captain Misbah-ul-Haq, fast bowler Junaid Khan and middle-order batsman Sohaib Maqsood did not participate.
Misbah is yet to recover from a hamstring injury while Junaid is nursing a knee injury and Maqsood has a fracture of a small bone in his left wrist.