Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Rhodes Supports Ajmal And Keen To Resign Spinner If He Secures Icc Approval

Rhodes Supports Ajmal And Keen To Resign Spinner If He Secures Icc Approval

Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes has reaffirmed his support for Saeed Ajmal and is keen for him to return to New Road next season if he gets approval from the International Cricket Council for his remodelled action.

Rhodes believes Ajmal would still be a potent member of the New Road attack even if the variety of delivery the Pakistan spinner is able to bowl has to be reduced in order to conform with ICC guide-lines.

The 37-year-old picked up 63 wickets in nine LV County Championship matches last season and played a significant role in Worcestershire gaining promotion to Division One.

He was banned from international cricket after his action was reported during the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Test in August and is currently working on remodelling his action with Saqlain Mushtaq after taking two informal biomechanic test at the ICC approved centre at Loughborough – the second of them yesterday (Monday).

Ajmal wants to gain official ICC approval so he can play in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February.

Worcestershire would also need to obtain a No Objection Certificate from the Pakistan Cricket Board for Ajmal to play for them in their 150th anniversary year.

Rhodes said: "You've got to be supportive of Saeed. He is almost public enemy number one at the moment and everyone was jumping on the bandwagon of him and losing out on playing international cricket because of his ban.

"But I know he has worked very hard. I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago when he came over to Loughborough.

"I went to see him and he has worked so hard in trying to get himself right – and is determined to.

"He has changed his action slightly to accommodate the problems and he is feeling very very confident.

"He's got two dates and will choose one of them when he can do the actual (ICC ) test and use another one as a practice. We are very much hoping that he can come through because he's an excellent bowler."

Rhodes, who also signed Ajmal for Worcestershire in 2011, added: "If his bowling is not quite as it was with the variety he could bowl, then I still think as an off-spinner and a finger spinner, he can be effective.

"You look at Jeetan Patel who took 70 wickets in the First Division for Warwickshire bowling orthodox off-spin.

"Saeed Ajmal, and what his record is, if we can get him back bowling and there is a slight difference in the way he bowls that might not be as effective, he is still going to be really effective for us.

"Would I still love to have him back? Very much so. We just want him to pass this test. If he passes this test, then he knows, and that's what I spoke to him about, we'll stand by him and give him a go.

"Why wouldn't we want to stand by him. In many ways, he was an instrumental part of our promotion challenge.

"We want to give him every opportunity to play for us in Division One should he pass his test.

"He loves Worcester. Without reading his mind, I do feel he would quite keen. We've then got potential hurdles of other areas like the Pakistan Board needing to give a No Objection Certificate. Hopefully they would do that.

"He is determined to get back playing in the World Cup and to do that, he needs to pass his (ICC) test. "

Ajmal is continuing to make good progress in his efforts to remodel his bowling action to meet the legal requirements.

The conventional off-spin and faster deliveries of the Pakistan spinner are now within the ICC's 15 degree limit according to a Pakistan official who spoke to ESPN cricinfo.

Pakistan's National Cricket Academy head coach Mohammad Akram said: "He worked so hard to reduce the flex. The latest test in the biomechanics lab on Monday revealed that he has started bowling within the ICC's 15-degree limit.

"His conventional offspin and faster deliveries are very well bowled within the limit now, that's the good news.

"There is no doubt that he is a true fighter. He, despite his medical history, has achieved a significant result in reducing the flex in his elbow.

"But at the same time I would like to request ICC to give him a benefit of doubt as his chronic injuries forced him to bowl [differently], with the wrist collapsing and shoulder dislocating. This is something which is exceptional in his case."