Saeed Ajmal was reported for a suspect action in Sri Lanka © Getty Images
Saeed Ajmal was reported for a suspect action in Sri Lanka © Getty Images

Karachi: Aug 26, 2014

Pakistan on Tuesday formed a committee to identify and help bowlers with suspect actions at an early stage after their ace spinner Saeed Ajmal was reported over his deliveries.The 36-year-old underwent tests at a Brisbane lab on Monday and faces a possible ban from the International Cricket Council (ICC) if they reveal his action is illegal. The report on the tests is due in two weeks.

Ajmal missed the first two matches in the ongoing one-day series against Sri Lanka but can play the final match in Dambulla on Saturday. If banned Ajmal would then have to undergo remedial work on his action, leaving Pakistan without their key bowler in the forthcoming series against Australia and New Zealand — both in United Arab Emirates — from October to December.

Since Ajmal’s suspect action was reported in the Galle Test against Sri Lanka earlier this month, Zimbabwe’s Prosper Utseya and Bangladesh’s Sohag Gazi have also been reported, highlighting the ICC’s strict stance on suspect bowling. The Pakistan Cricket Board said it wants to help bowlers with suspect actions in the early stages of their careers.

“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. Ajmal’s two possible replacements in Atif Maqbool and Adnan Rasool — both good performers in Pakistan’s domestic season — have suspect actions.