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Suspended Ajmal getting better by degrees

DUBAI: Suspended Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal has substantially improved his suspect bowling action but he still needs work to return to being within the legal limit, the Pakistan Cricket Board said Saturday.

The 37-year-old was reported during the Galle Test against Sri Lanka in August this year and after a biomechanical analysis in Australia the master spinner was suspended until another official assessment by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has even hired former off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq to work on removing the flaws in Ajmal’s action.

Under ICC rules a bowler is allowed 15-degree elbow extension, a point visible to naked eye.

But August’s tests on Ajmal showed he extends his elbow nearly 43 degrees and, as a result, needed a major overhaul.

Before going for his official test with the ICC, the PCB sent Ajmal to Loughborough, England, to have an unofficial assessment as a precautionary measure and the Pakistan board said the unofficial test was satisfactory.

“After tests on November 10 at Loughborough University, an ICC-accredited facility for tests on bowlers with suspect actions, biomechanist Dr. Mark King has reported that Ajmal has modified his “bowling action substantially,” said the PCB.

“While there is clearly a substantial improvement from the previous official test it is likely that with additional work the bowler can bowl within the 15-degree limit.”

Ajmal will remain in England for one more week and will continue working with Saqlain.

Ajmal was one of seven bowlers reported after an ICC crackdown initiated in June this year.

Apart from Ajmal, Sri Lanka’s Sachitra Senanayake, New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, Zimbabwe’s Prosper Utseya and Bangladesh’s Sohag Gazi were also suspended.

Bangladesh’s paceman Al-Amin Hossain, also reported in September, was cleared after a biomechanical assessment last month while Zimbabwe’s Malcolm Waller was reported last week.

Under ICC rules, if a bowler’s action is reported twice within two years of the first report he will be banned for 12 months.

Pakistan is hoping Ajmal will be cleared before the World Cup in February and March in Australia and New Zealand as he is seen as key to the team’s success. – AFP

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