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Saeed Ajmal, controversial Pakistan spinner, to retire from all forms of cricket

Saeed Ajmal was in top form for Pakistan cricket team on the international stage when he was suspended for illegal bowling action in 2014. Ajmal returned for a short while to international cricket in 2015 after remodelling his action but he was not effective

cricket Updated: Nov 13, 2017 21:23 IST
Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal was suspended for illegal bowling action in 2014.
Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal was suspended for illegal bowling action in 2014.(AFP)

Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on Monday, two years after losing his wicket-taking bite with a remodelled bowling action that was twice deemed illegal.

During a successful but controversial career, Ajmal was once celebrated as the world’s number one bowler in one day internationals (ODIs) and T20 cricket, and was almost as successful in Tests. He famously captured 24 wickets in three Tests against England in 2012.

READ | Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal miss out on Pakistan central contracts

But his time in the limelight was cut short after a temporary ban for chucking saw him return to the sport in 2015 without the same form.

He took just one wicket in two ODIs and a Twenty20 in Bangladesh, his first matches after being cleared to bowl, and was never selected for the national team again.

‘Satisfying career’

“I am quitting all forms of cricket after the current National Twenty20 tournament,” Ajmal told AFP from Rawalpindi on the phone.

READ | Saeed Ajmal chucking ban only highlights a growing problem

“It was a highly satisfying career in which I achieved whatever goals I set for myself and helped the team win matches.”

Ajmal took 178 wickets in 35 Tests, the last of which was at Galle in Sri Lanka in 2014, where his bowling action was reported for a second time. It was first reported during an ODI series against Australia in the UAE in 2009.

He finished with 184 wickets in 113 ODIs, and 85 in 64 Twenty20 internationals.

‘Frustrating times’

But in spite of his early successes, Ajmal said the last two years of his career had been frustrating.

“Ban over action left me frustrated and hurt,” he said. “More hurtful was that current player Stuart Broad questioned that and his comments hurt me no end. But I have forgiven everyone.”

England fast bowler Broad questioned the legality of Ajmal’s action when the Pakistani spinner was featuring in an English county championship a month before the umpires’ report in Sri Lanka.

Ajmal took a swipe at the process of calling bowlers out for illegal action. “It seems that the process was meant for me and (Mohammad) Hafeez, all other bowlers with questionable actions are still playing,” he said.

Hafeez’s action was reported for a second time last month. Ajmal said he will concentrate on coaching in the future.