|Player:||Saeed Ajmal, Saqlain Mushtaq|
|Event:||ICC World Cup 2014/15|
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After an uncomfortable period for Pakistan cricket there was finally some good news on Saturday as the International Cricket Council confirmed that Saeed Ajmal's bowling action was found to be legal. Ajmal was reported after the first Test match against Sri Lanka in Galle in August of last year and failed the initial test on his bowling action, which was performed on 25th of August at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.
However following a sustained period of remedial work with former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq predominantly at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore and some changes to his bowling action, 37 year old Ajmal can now make an immediate return to international cricket.
Speaking with PakPassion.net a delighted Ajmal stated "I was confident that I would pass the official test this time around. You can never be complacent but I just felt good during the test and very happy with how it went. We've put in a lot of work on my bowling action since my ban and I cannot thank Saqlain Mushtaq, the Pakistan Cricket Board and Dr. Paul Hurrion enough. They have really supported me through this tough time and I'm very grateful to them and I look forward to playing cricket again. I will continue to work with the experts in the coming weeks and months and to ensure that together we are looking at the technical side of my bowling. My aim is to carry on bowling without any fear of being called for an illegal action and to focus on being the number one bowler in the world."
Whilst Ajmal's return to cricket is already being greeted with joy by Pakistani cricket followers around the world, lingering doubts over Ajmal's effectiveness as a bowler following the changes to his bowling action remain. When asked about his effectiveness as a bowler after the changes to his action, Ajmal's response was forthright "I actually think I can be even more effective now as a bowler as I have added a couple of new deliveries to my repertoire which are the carrom ball and a seam-up delivery, without losing any of my existing deliveries. I'm happy with the changes to my action and this period away from cricket has given me the opportunity to re-assess my bowling and to make some improvements and necessary changes. I think some of the people who are saying I won't be as effective have not even seen me bowling and are basing their opinions on hearsay and a short video clip."
The deadline for the Pakistan Cricket Board to name a replacement for the injured pace bowler Junaid Khan was 7th February. The PCB ahead of the deadline named Rahat Ali who has only played a solitary one day international and that too in 2012. Whether the PCB should have delayed their decision to name a replacement remains open to question. There have also been reports that the Pakistan team management currently in Australia have declined the offer to include Saeed Ajmal as a possible replacement. When questioned about his availability for the World Cup, Ajmal stated "I don't read too much into media reports about the management saying this and that. It's been a pleasure playing for Pakistan and I hope that I can proudly wear the Pakistan shirt again soon. This has been a tough time for me and my family. Never mind thinking about playing in a World Cup, there have been times of late that I was ready to quit cricket altogether as I was feeling so low and dejected. You start doubting yourself and you start doubting whether you will play cricket ever again. Mentally at times I was drained and it was good to have the support of friends and family around me. As a cricketer I just want to play cricket, to entertain and to do my best for whichever team I am playing for. If my country needs me, then I will play in the World Cup. If I am not required, then I will watch the matches on television and wish the team all the best and hope they can lift the trophy."
Ajmal who is currently working as a television pundit will continue his comeback to cricket with a series of matches in Pakistan club cricket. Meanwhile Pakistan continues its build up to the World Cup with a warm-up match against Bangladesh on 9th February at Blacktown Olympic Park Oval, Sydney.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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