Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal yesterday said he was delighted his eight-month “torture” which saw him suspended for an illegal bowling action was finally over after being recalled to the national side.
On Friday, the 37-year-old was named in the squad for all three formats of the game for Pakistan’s upcoming tour of Bangladesh, eight months after his action was reported as suspect in Sri Lanka.
Ajmal was subsequently suspended from all international cricket after a biomechanical analysis showed the flex in his elbow went beyond the 15-degree tolerance limit allowed by the International Cricket Council.
“It was torture living without cricket,” Ajmal admitted. “I have endured eight months of pain and it was the most difficult time of my life.”
Alhumdolillah I am back with the same spirit. Thank you all for your support and love. pic.twitter.com/mPBrSn8HNE
— Saeed Ajmal (@REALsaeedajmal) April 4, 2015
Ajmal underwent remedial work on his action with the help of former Pakistan great Saqlain Mushtaq before being cleared following a reassessment test in February.
He was unable, however, to join the national team for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, where Pakistan made it to the quarter-finals before being ousted by eventual champions and hosts Australia.
“I watched the World Cup on television and for 45 days I wanted to enter the television and play alongside my teammates and do my part,” he said.
“I felt they were missing me as I was always effective in the batting power-plays when I used to pick up wickets and that was missing from our game.
“I was in regular touch with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and was always trying to pump him and the other players up through my good wishes, but it was tough to be away from the team.”
Ajmal credited his family and friends for helping him through the ordeal.
“I did my rehab and remedial work with the support of my family, friends and the Pakistan Cricket Board and now I am quite hopeful that I will be able to bowl as effectively as I used to before the suspension,” he said. “I see no problems with my remodelled action as I have done enough work on it.”
Before his suspension in August, Ajmal was ranked the No1 bowler in the world in one-day cricket. In all, he has 178 Test, 183 one-day and 85 Twenty20 wickets to his name.
The off-spinner, who admitted Pakistani cricket was going through a difficult phase, nevertheless insisted the country, which hoisted the World Cup in 1992, had enough talent to recover.
“These are difficult times for Pakistan cricket but I am convinced there is no dearth of talent and in one year’s time the team will be settled,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan said his board will pay compensation to the Pakistan Cricket Board for postponing two tours to Pakistan in 2012.
The announcement came after a three-month impasse between the two boards after the PCB had set certain conditions for their upcoming tour to Bangladesh.
Renowned sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters claims he did little more than give Jonathan Trott the tools to rebuild his England career.
Warwickshire batsman Trott touched down in the West Indies with England on Thursday night, back in the international set-up for the first time since leaving last winter’s Ashes tour with a stress-related illness.
Trott has spoken openly of his struggles since, but has slowly rehabilitated his career with both Warwickshire and the England Lions and is now on the brink of returning to Tests.
Looking forward to heading off next week to West Indies with @ECB_cricket. Thanks for all the messages of support
— Jonathan Trott (@Trotty) March 26, 2015
The 33-year-old has worked extensively with Dr Peters during the last year, learning from a man who has done notable work with the British cycling team, Liverpool and snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Explaining the entire process in The Independent, Peters said there is no magic cure and that Trott had worked hard to counter his problems, which he described as “situational anxiety”.
He wrote: “He ticked all the boxes. It was a foregone conclusion to me that he would make massive progress – I just hoped that he would then perform as he has been doing and justify his place. Now he has done that.
“He’s an incredible cricketer. The advice I give to most of the people I work with is not to go public because obviously you’re training people to do a skill. A lot of people don’t understand that it is a skill and therefore you might not get it right.
“People are expecting a magicwand cure and that’s not really the way it works. Jonathan decided he wanted to go public about this because he has done so well.
“It’s a credit to the man. You can have periods in sport, sometimes a whole season, when things just aren’t happening and you’re just digging even harder to make it happen again – that’s effectively what Jonathan has done.
“From a psychological point of view, Jonathan is quite robust and certainly determined. It was just a case of giving him the tools to understand what was going on.”
Peters, who helped mentor the golden generation of British cyclists and also worked with O’Sullivan for his last two world titles, can see no reason why Trott won’t make a successful return to Test cricket.
“What Jonathan did was to take it very seriously, he meant business, which is a measure of the man,” he added.
“He was very open, hardworking, and what I effectively told him to do was to get some insights into the way his mind was working. Then it was up to him to operate [his mind] in the way he wanted it to, rather than it dictating to him what was going happen.
“I don’t have a recipe for people. It’s up to the player himself to manage the mind in the way they want to in the future. That’s something anyone can do, it’s not something you only do when you’re distressed. Jonathan had what became a situational anxiety, and once that was understood, he was able to manage it.
“My feeling is that he’ll do very well and he won’t have any problems now because he has that insight.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) committee dealing with suspect bowling actions will take a decision on spinner Sunil Narine’s participation in this year’s IPL by Monday after the West Indian underwent a new testing process on his bowling.
Kolkata Knight Riders spinner Narine’s action was reported as suspect during the Champions League T20 last year and had it tested again at the Sri Ramachandra Medical College, an ICC-accredited centre in Chennai, on Thursday.
This was despite the fact that his action had been cleared by the University of Loughborough in March. The BCCI said that if a player’s action has been reported, he must be tested once again to play in an Indian tournament.
“There is no rule which says that once a bowler gets his action cleared by a lab he can’t go through another round of testing to prove himself,” BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya had said on Wednesday.
— KKR Knight Riders (@kkrofficial) March 30, 2015
After the BCCI gave the diktat, the Knight Riders management arranged for Narine to travel to India. The bowler reached Chennai on Thursday and undertook the tests in the presence of a top Knight Riders official and other experts before leaving for Kolkata in the evening.
“We can only say that he has undergone the tests. We cannot give any further details,” said a KKR official.
ESPNcricinfo reported that Narine appeared before BCCI’s committee comprising of former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath, former captain S Venkataraghavan and ex-international umpire AV Jayaprakash.
Srinath’s panel reportedly watched Narine’s bowling in real time and also put him through various tests with the entire process lasting for around two hours.
Narine’s action was reported in successive matches during last year’s Champions League T20. The 26-year-old later returned to competitive cricket in January this year with Trinidad and Tobago in the Nagico Super50, including a career-best six for nine in the final against Guyana.
It is believed that Narine took those wickets with a new bowling action, which he has been working on with the help of various experts like former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq.
Narine presence is crucial for KKR, who will play Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener on April 9 at Eden Gardens.