Well this is news. Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal has been banned from bowling.
Ajmal was tested once before and had his action cleared. But not this time. This time he has been found guilty of the greatest crime in cricket.
People will whisper the word whenever he is near and he will have to use the special toilets reserved for his kind whenever he is at a cricket ground. Whenever his name appears in on-screen statistics, it will always be accompanied by an asterisk. This is not to indicate that he was captain. That asterisk says just one thing. People will hiss the words, rather than say them: “Saeed Ajmal was a straightener.”
A thousand parallel Ajmal-less universes have opened up to bitter fans of other nations. In ours, an entirely different Pakistan spinner keeps taking five-for-spit against England in the UAE in 2011. Probably a far less likeable one.
Next Monday sees a proper Test series – Pakistan v South Africa. Well, we say ‘proper Test series’ but it’s actually just two Tests, so not a proper Test series at all really.
Pakistan recently managed to lose a Test against Zimbabwe. For any other nation, this would be indicative of a serious problem; cause for some sort of grandly-titled review at the very least. Pakistan have just sort of looked sheepish and said: “Ooh, that was a bit embarrassing. Where are we playing next?”
They know it was bad, but it won’t remotely have an impact on their belief that they can beat the best Test team in the world. Their batting is still bad. Their bowling is still good. They’re still equally capable of winning or losing regardless of the opposition.
Saeed Ajmal v Dav Whatmore
Saeed Ajmal has been in the news for apparently saying that new Pakistan coach, Dav Whatmore, was pretty much pointless. Personally, we read his quoted words as being a bad translation and that he was just saying that having a foreign coach wasn’t necessarily better than having a Pakistani one – a statement which was compounded by his subsequent observation that Dav don’t speak da language.
If people really wanted to create a media frenzy over the ambiguity of Ajmal’s words, they should have made more of this sentence from his apology afterwards:
“I enjoy very good relations with Dav.”
Now that’s news. Then again, we already knew that Ajmal’s thoughts struggle to make it into English.
South Africa are also playing
Everything’s much the same with them. The most exciting news is that Graeme Smith’s back, which means that the most exciting news is that everything’s back to normal.
England have faced Michael Beer, Xavier Doherty and a guy who looks a bit like Harbhajan Singh in the last year. They haven’t really had to combat any spin bowlers.
Saeed Ajmal is a spin bowler – he’s a good spin bowler, in fact. He’s not a 7-55 on day one spin bowler, but then no spinner is unless he happens to be playing England.
Saeed Ajmal was playing England.
It’s fun watching England batsmen play spin. It’s fun in much the same way as it would be fun to see a hippo attempt Groove is in the Heart on Just Dance. They’re keen. They’re just fundamentally ill-equipped for the task.
David Morgan’s county recommendations could perhaps be applied to Test cricket in order to help England’s cause. They could play Australia home and away, but perhaps play Pakistan only at home. That would work in their favour and India would doubtless be happy to benefit from a similar arrangement regarding their own touring commitments.
Despite being MASSIVELY RIGHT about Ajmal and England, we’re not happy. At the same time, neither do we despair. This is day one of a prolonged trial against spin for England’s batsmen which stretches through a series in Sri Lanka in March to one in India at the end of the year. If England are a good side, they’ll improve considerably.
We think they’re a good side. But let’s see.