‘Why question Ajmal’s action now?’

Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood has questioned the timing of the decision to refer Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal for a suspect bowling action.

Ajmal’s was put through his paces at the Cricket Australia’s National Cricket Centre in Brisbane on Monday and the result of the tests will be declared in about two weeks time, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said in a statement.

The 37-year-old, ranked number one in one-day internationals and Pakistan’s main bowling weapon, had his action reported during the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle earlier this month. He will miss part of his side’s one-day series against Sri Lanka.

“It’s not fair when they say he’s not bowling with a legal action,” said Mahmood.

“He’s been playing cricket for so long, so why now?“

Ajmal, who has taken 178 wickets at 28 in 35 Tests, is one of five bowlers to be reported for having suspect actions since a worldwide crackdown began in June.

Ajmal’s mystery ball and the one under most scrutiny is his doosra, the away spinner delivered by an arm which often needs to straighten to get maximum whip.

The current law allows bowlers to flex their elbow at an angle of 15 degrees. This has been the case for a decade, with the law introduced due to bowlers such as Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralidaran who was proved to have a medical condition which meant he had a permanently bent elbow.

Pakistan, who lost the second ODI against Sri Lanka by 77 runs, are already missing the striking prowess of Ajmal and will hope the matter is resolved well before the World Cup next year.

“We missed Ajmal in this game. He would have made a big difference on a wicket like this,” Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said after his team’s loss on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday formed a committee to identify and help bowlers with suspect actions at an early stage after the recent development.

“A committee under former spinner Iqbal Qasim has been formed to help bowlers with suspect action,” the board said in a statement.

Former paceman Mohammad Akram, spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed and umpire Aleem Dar will also be on the committee.

Besides Ajmal, Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar, Shoaib Malik, Shabbir Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez and Riaz Afridi have been reported for suspect actions at international level in the past.

In 2005 Ahmed became the first bowler ever to be banned for a 12-month period by the ICC after his action was reported twice in 12 months.

“This is a major problem for Pakistan,” Qasim told AFP.

“We need to spot young bowlers with suspect actions and improve their actions in the academy.

“It is important to help the bowlers at an early age of 16 or 19 because once they get mature it’s tough to alter their actions,” said Qasim, who took 171 wickets in 50 Tests.

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