Pakistan cricket authorities and the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday clarified the confusion over Saeed Ajmal’s bowling action, saying the spinner had been cleared within the specified limits.
Ajmal himself created more confusion, by claiming he has special dispensation from the ICC to straighten his arm beyond the allowed 15 degrees.
The 34-year-old off-spinner, who took 24 wickets in the 3-0 Test series whitewash of England, claimed that the ICC has allowed him extra leniency, up to 23.5 degrees.
As per the ICC rules a bowler can only straighten his arm up to 15 degrees, beyond which his action will be deemed illegal.
“I don’t know about my bowling action, but somebody was telling me your action is bad. ICC has allowed me 23.5 because my arm is not good because of an accident, that is why a problem,” Ajmal told BBC television on Monday after being declared man-of-the-series.
“Otherwise no problem, straightaway cleared by ICC.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Ajmal was referring to elbow extension, and not the arm.
“Ajmal was referring to the angle of elbow abduction i.e. the angle of the upper arm to the forearm and not the degree of elbow extension. This angle is approximately 23 degrees in Ajmal’s case,” the PCB said in a statement.
“The ICC’s level of tolerance of 15 degrees relates to the degree of elbow extension that is permitted in the bowling action i.e. the amount by which the arm is straightening,” it added.
The PCB said the previous tests conducted on the action of Ajmal showed that the degree of elbow extension is well within ICC’s tolerance levels.
ICC general manager cricket David Richardson also backed the PCB’s stance.
“There is a big difference between the elbow carry angle (elbow abduction) and the degree of elbow extension. There is nothing preventing a bowler bowling with a bent arm, provided he does not straighten it beyond the permitted degrees of tolerance,” said Richardson.
Pakistan won the third and final Test here by 71 runs.
Ajmal’s bowling action, reported by match officials during a one-day series against Australia here in 2009 before it was cleared after remedial work by experts, once again came under suspicions following his career-best 7-55 in the first Test, also played in Dubai.
Former England paceman Bob Willis raised suspicions over his ‘doosra’ (second one) — a ball which turns the other way than a normal off-break — while England coach Andy Flower said he has his own opinion and left the matter to the ICC.
But after Ajmal’s claim on relaxation, Flower on Tuesday showed surprise.
“If that’s the degree, then there’s a problem, said Flower when asked about Ajmal’s claim of special dispensation. “That’s ridiculous.”
“That is an ICC issue, though. They are there to police the game, and make sure that it is played within the rules, so they’ve got to scrutinise his action.
“We’ve all got our own views, but our job is to combat whoever is put against us, and part of it is also to play the game in the right spirit.