Pakistan’s spin king may be out of favour with the national selectors but England batsman and Worcestershire team mate Moeen Ali believes Saeed Ajmal is just a “four-day game away from getting back to his best”.
The 37-year-old Ajmal, back playing competitive cricket after remodelling his bowling action, started a third spell with Worcestershire, starting with the T20 Blast last week.
Ajmal returned 3-53 in the first game at New Road against Northamptonshire Steelbacks, featuring Pakistan teammate Shahid Afridi, and then 1-26 against Nottinghamshire Outlaws on Sunday.
Moeen said the Pakistani maestro had already shown signs that he was getting back into the groove.
“It is brilliant to have Saeed back. I still feel he is one of the best spinners in the world,” Moeen told the Worcestershire Cricket Club website.
“Obviously he’s had to change his action but I can see already, after being with him for a couple of days now, that he is getting better.
“I saw him at Northants and thought ‘he is not far away’ and he did well against Notts. He just needs a good four-day game under his belt and he will be fine,” he added.
The 27-year-old, who has cemented his place in the England Test side after showing great ability with his part-time off-spinners, said he was not surprised Ajmal was able to make a return to competitive cricket despite the loud “he’s finished” chorus.
“I think once his confidence is 100 per cent there, he will be back to his best.
“We know how good he is. It was no surprise to me that he came back to being at his best and getting through the process of having to remodel his action because he works so hard.”
“I’ve tried to give him as much support as I can during the winter. I messaged him a few times and we stayed in touch and I knew he was working hard so I didn’t want to interrupt him too much.”
Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes said Ajmal could return the favour by working with fellow spinner Moeen during his time at the county.
Ajmal has openly revealed in the past that he had share ‘trade secrets’ with Moeen.
“He’s not shy on giving his thoughts on spin bowling and that can only be a good thing for Moeen,” said Rhodes.
“It’s healthy for him having Saeed around.”
Rhodes echoed the English stars words in praising Ajmal and how determined the Pakistan lynchpin has looked since his arrival at the county. The veteran obviously has a thing or two to prove to the world as well.
“Saeed’s a natural competitor. Getting results for the team is the most important thing, but I’m really pleased with what I see from him. I’m sure he’s going to have a good season for us.”