Banned Chuckers in Race Against Time for World Cup

Saeed Ajmal and Sachithra Senanayake have already remodeled their bowling action while the Bangladesh Cricket Board has promised all necessary help to Sohag Gazi. All three off-spinners were banned by the ICC for illegal bowling action.

Updated: October 10, 2014 19:38 IST
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Ajmal has been seen bowling with a slightly side-on action at the NCA.

With the World Cup just four months away, Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal, Sri Lanka's Sachitra Senanayake and Bangladesh's Sohag Gazi, the three off-spinners banned from international cricket by the ICC over suspect action have gone into top gear in a bid to get back to their respective teams.

Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal and Sri Lanka's Sachithra Senanayake have worked on new bowling actions after they were handed crushing blows by the world governing body. Ajmal has been working with Saqlain Mushtaq at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore to remodel his action.

According to a report in ESPNcricinfo, Ajmal has been bowling with a bit of a side-on action, where he rolls his arm over without delivering the ball. Ajmal was banned last month after tests in Brisbane showed his action was illegal. Pakistan Cricket Board chief Shahryar Khan has already said the star off-spinner's return to the side for the World Cup would be an uphill task. But Ajmal has remained determined about staging a comeback for the showpiece event to be played in Australia and New Zealand from February next year.

But the correction phase clearly will not be easy for a man who has bowled nearly 19,000 deliveries in five years of international cricket. Reports indicate that Ajmal will train at the NCA for the next three weeks before flying to England for an "independent bio-mechanical assessment". He will then have to undergo further remedial work and then the PCB will apply to the ICC for a review of his action.

Provided everything works to plan, the wily off-spinner could make it just in time for the World Cup squad. Having picked up 183 wickets from 111 ODIs, Ajmal is an essential part of Pakistan, whose only World Cup triumph came 22 years ago in 1992.. Little wonder then that the Pakistan board is racing against time to ensure the team's trump card is cleared.

Meanwhile, Senanayake made a return to competitive cricket when he appeared in Sri Lanka's Mercantile Cricket tournament, sending down 22 overs in three matches. The off-spinner, banned in July, bowled with his reworked action for the first time since and did well with figures of 0 for 35, 2 for 22 and 3 for 16.

Senanayake had has already taken corrective measures and is currently training hard under the watchful eyes of Sri Lanka Cricket spin bowling coach Piyal Wijetunge. Sri Lanka have plenty of options to choose from for the World Cup but the 29-year-old Senanayake's presence could be key even in pacey conditions Down Under. He is dangerous on most kinds of pitches and is handy with the bat lower down the order.

However, Gazi whose suspension was announced on Wednesday is less fortunate. Unlike Ajmal and Senanayake, the Bangladesh off-spinner does not have the time and space to take appropriate corrective measures. His is a difficult fight, certainly more than the other two. However, his board is not giving up.

BCB's cricket operations committee chairman Akram Khan has already promised to extend all possible help to Gazi, which could even involve foreign coaches and facilities. When Abdur Razzak was banned in 2008, Bangladesh went on a war-footing to seek remedial action and the left-arm spinner made his way back to international cricket three months later. Gazi does not have as much time, if he wants to make the flight for Australia.

"We will try to correct him as soon as possible. We had experienced coaches working with Abdur Razzak when he had the problem in 2008-09. So we are hoping to do the same for Gazi. We will try to ask the coaches who worked with Razzak, to help Gazi. If needed, we will get more experienced people on board. We also have an opportunity to use facilities in Chennai", Khan said.

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