Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal has added to the debate over his bowling action by claiming that the ICC allowed him to bend his arm beyond the permitted 15 degrees tolerance.
In an interview with the BBC, Ajmal volunteered the belief that the ICC has allowed him to bend his arm upto 23.5 degrees. “Someone is telling me my action is bad because the ICC allowed me as a bowler 23.5 degrees, because my arm is not good. A few years ago I had an accident. Otherwise, no problem, the action was cleared by ICC.”
The ICC were quick to reject this claim by the off-spinner. An ICC spokesman said “There is no dispensation for anyone,” he said. “It is worth remembering that his first language is not English and this may have been a slip of the tongue.” He hwoever said that the game’s governing body was looking into Ajmal’s comments and will make a formal announcement soon. “There is no dispensation for anyone,” he said. “It is worth remembering that his first language is not English and this may have been a slip of the tongue.”
Ajmal was named Man of the Series as Pakistan whitewashed England 3-0 in Dubai.
Former England fast bowler Bob Willis has questioned Ajmal’s “doosra,” a delivery that spins away from a right-handed batsman. But while Willis had raised concerns about Ajmal’s action at the start of the series, the England team have been reluctant to be dragged into any controversy. Consequently, they have stuck to the line that it is job of the umpires and the ICC to scrutinise bowlers’ actions.
Ajmal was cleared by the ICC in 2009 after he was reported for a suspected bowling action.
However, Andy Flower, the England coach, expressed his surprise after being told of Ajmal’s remarks. “If that’s the degree, then there’s a problem,” Flower said. “That’s ridiculous. That is an ICC issue, though. They are there to police the game, and make sure that it is played within the rules, so they’ve got to scrutinise his action. We’ve all got our own views, but our job is to combat whoever is put against us, and part of it is also to play the game in the right spirit.”
The PCB, however, clarified the claims made by Ajmal. Pakistan Team Manager Naveed Akram Cheema, while clarifying off-spinner Saeed Ajmal’s comments on his bowling action, has issued the following statement: “The ICC’s level of tolerance of 15 degrees relates to the degree of elbow extension that is permitted in the bowling action i.e. the amount by which the arm is straightening.
“Previous tests conducted on the action of Saeed Ajmal show that the degree of elbow extension is well within ICC’s tolerance levels.
“Saeed Ajmal was referring to the angle of elbow abduction i.e. the angle of the upper arm to the forearm and not the degree of elbow extension. This angle is approximately 23 degrees in Saeed’s case.”
ICC General Manager for Cricket, David Richardson, said: “There is a big difference between the “elbow carry angle” (elbow abduction) and the degree of elbow extension. There is nothing preventing a bowler bowling with a bent arm, provided he does not straighten it beyond the permitted degrees of tolerance.”