Iqbal Qasim (Photo courtesy: PakPassion)
Iqbal Qasim had played 50 Test matches in his career (Photo courtesy: PakPassion)

Karachi: Aug 13, 2014

Pakistan’s former spin great Iqbal Qasim on Wednesday (August 13) urged the country’s cricket chiefs to groom more young slow bowlers after Saeed Ajmal was reported for suspect action.

The umpires and match referee voiced concerns over a number of the 36-year-old off-spinner’s deliveries during Pakistan’s seven-wicket loss to Sri Lanka at Galle, which finished on Sunday. Under International Cricket Council (ICC) rules, Ajmal is required to undergo tests within 21 days of the report.

If biomechanical assessment of Ajmal’s action proves his action is illegal he will be banned, just like Sri Lanka’s Sachitra Senanayake and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson were last month. Qasim said the incident should force Pakistan to think hard about who could replace Ajmal, one of the world’s best spinners of recent years.

“We hope Ajmal is cleared but his action (being) reported is a wake-up call for Pakistan before next year’s World Cup, because he is our main bowler and without him our attack is very weak,” Qasim, who took 171 wickets in 50 Tests bowling slow left-arm spin, told AFP.

Qasim said the Pakistan administration needs to work fast to unearth spin talent. ”We now need to groom some youngsters for the future in our national cricket academy and the coach hired for spinners should not be on tour with the team, but should do work at the academy to give us spinners for future,” said Qasim.

Ajmal is allowed to bowl until the results of his tests are known and is likely to play in the second Test starting in Colombo on Thursday. Pakistan hired former leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed as spin bowling coach and he is touring Sri Lanka with the team.

Qasim said the years of debate over Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan had made the ICC more vigilant about suspect actions. Muralitharan retired in 2010 after taking 800 Tests and 534 one-day wickets — both world records. But his action was debated and questioned more than once, forcing the ICC to permit all bowlers to straighten their bowling arm up to 15 degrees under a new process introduced in 2005.

Ajmal’s action was first reported in 2009 but at that time only a specific delivery, his doosra — which turns the other way around from the normal off-break — was questioned.