Saeed Ajmal brushes aside retirement talks, targets limited-overs return
Dismissing reports of PCB contacting him for a farewell match, discarded Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal has expressed eagerness to continue to target an international comeback in the shorter formats of the game.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the 38-year old insisted that his fitness would allow him to contribute significantly to Pakistan’s fortunes in white-ball cricket whilst announcing readiness to quit Tests.
Currently in London for a charity match, Ajmal claimed, “No one has contacted me from the PCB as of now regarding my retirement plan. I am fit and ready to play as I have shown everyone in the recently concluded National T20 Cup that the ‘old Ajmal’ is back.”
The Faisalabad based cricketer debuted in ODI cricket against arch-rivals India during the 2008 Asia Cup on home soil. After a lackluster first couple of seasons, he came into his own by developing several variations including a lethal doosra.
However, over-reliance on him led to an increased workload which in turn led to a deteriorated bowling action. Eventually, Ajmal was called for suspect action in the 2014 Galle Test and handed a ban. Though he returned with a remodeled action, his trademark sorcery appeared to be missing.
While Yasir Shah has successfully taken up his mantle in the sport’s traditional format, Pakistan’s limited-overs teams have struggled to replace him and plummeted down the rankings.
Yasir himself acknowledged the transition by suggesting, “I was very sorry, we lost Saeed Ajmal. He was our leading spin bowler and he was a big player for us. Whenever a player of that caliber is ruled out, the team is weakened. We really felt his loss, even though I was playing. Also, if we'd played together he could have helped me.”
With Mohammad Hafeez also plagued by bowling action issues, and with a shortage of menacing off-spinners in Pakistan’s domestic circuit, could keep the seasoned campaigner motivated for a possible comeback.
Ajmal declared, “Pakistan don’t have any good off-spinners in whole domestic structure. I should be given chance after my T20 performance. If I fail to perform, I will walk away myself. I believe I can contribute to the Pakistan team in the shorter formats for at least one or two years.”
“That’s where my real focus is. As far as Test cricket is concerned, I believe our team has some really good spinners. So, all I want to do is play for one last time and then focus on limited overs cricket.”