As many as three Pakistan off-spinners have been reported for suspect actions but still the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) continues to neglect the burning issue of chucking in domestic cricket.
Former world number one Saeed Ajmal was the biggest name to be banned when the International Cricket Council (ICC) started coming down on illegal actions.
There were fears that the same could happen with Mohammad Hafeez as well but the PCB and the team management did not learn from Ajmal’s issue, with the once bitten twice shy adage clearly lost on those in charge.
Hafeez continued to bowl after some remedial work at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) with 2D cameras — deemed insufficient in comparison to high-speed slow motion cameras.
Inevitably, Hafeez was banned as well and Pakistan went into the World Cup without two of their main bowlers; meaning that their campaign was doomed to fail even before it started.
The PCB finally took some action, and over 35 bowlers were reported by umpires. But there were no proper follow-ups and several bowlers with suspected actions continued turning out for their respective teams.
Despite having previously faced embarrassment internationally, the board decided to risk off-spinner Bilal Asif. The 30-year-old was called up in just his second ODI, which has prompted the PCB to once again ponder the chucking issue.
Two off-spinners who were in line to represent Pakistan post-Ajmal were Atif Maqbool and Adnan Rasool — but both were reported as well at the domestic level.
The 33-year-old Atif, who has 255 wickets in 60 first-class matches with 22 five-wicket hauls, revealed that the PCB has not helped him even once in his rehabilitation and he has been forced to do everything on his own since being reported.
“Despite being a leading performer in domestic cricket, I’ve been neglected by the PCB in my rehabilitation,” Atif, who has played for UBL, PIA and Karachi, told The Express Tribune. “After being called, I went to the NCA and the officials told me I had a 32-degree elbow angle and shared some drills with me. I wasn’t even allowed to stay at the academy. They said I should come back after some time and they will make another video to tell me whether my action was clear or not.”
He urged the board to be more cooperative with the bowlers who have been reported as they cannot remodel their actions on their own and the process can only be completed under the supervision of qualified coaches.
Atif, who now plays for the SSGC, added that the only time he got to work in the NCA was when Ajmal was working with Saqlain Mushtaq and he somehow managed to go there on his own. “SSGC have been really supportive of me and I’m working hard to bring my action under the 15-degree limit with the help of our analyst,” he said. “So far, I’ve managed to bring it to around 20 degrees.”
Meanwhile, former off-spinner Tauseef Ahmed stated that there is a serious need to fast track work on the impending biomechanics lab at NCA. The PCB has bought expensive equipment for the lab but the building is yet to be completed even after several years.
“It is high time that we get an operational biomechanics lab at the NCA because we need to get rid of this chucking menace,” said Tauseef.
The 57-year-old believes it may be wise to ask the bowlers to focus on the basics once again. “The best way to at least lower the percentage of bowlers with suspected action would be to ban the ‘doosra’ for some time,” said Tauseef. “This will allow bowlers to focus on improving their off-spin because right now everyone thinks that the ‘doosra’ is everything and the normal off-spinner is nothing.”
However, Tauseef was upset with the umpires and the ICC for having double standards, stating that Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has been bowling in international cricket without any problem.
“It is total injustice to report Bilal as he has a pretty clean action as compared to Harbhajan,” said Tauseef, who also felt that the limit should be taken to 20 degrees.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2015.
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