Once upon a time, there was an off-spinner named Saeed Ajmal in the Pakistan team who won many a match for his country. He was an essential part of the team in all three formats of the game for a long time. But now he is nowhere.
After getting his bowling action cleared, Ajmal came back to Pakistani squad for Bangladesh tour in April 2015 but his performance was unimpressive and he failed to produce his magic with the new action.
He managed only one wicket for 123 runs in two ODIs, conceding 6.47 an over, much higher than his career economy rate. After that disappointing Bangladesh tour, Ajmal was dropped for Sri Lanka tour. Yasir Shah replaced him wonderfully and played an important role in Pakistan’s Test series win. “I was assured that I would be considered and won’t be discarded. I also understand that Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar are doing very well and I don’t want to dislodge their place but I think there is some room for me in limited-overs cricket and I will prove that in the National Twenty20 Cup in Pakistan,” the off-spinner had said. But in the National Twenty20 Cup, Ajmal’s hopes were shattered as he failed miserably.
The PCB advised Ajmal to regain his rhythm by playing county cricket but he failed to prove himself there as well. He played his last Twenty20 for Worcestershire against Hampshire on August 14, 2015, conceding 38 runs in four overs without getting any wicket.
In eight first-class matches, he took only 16 wickets at a high average of almost 50. In 2014, he had claimed 63 wickets in nine matches, which had helped Worcestershire rise from Division Two.
Disappointed with this situation, Ajmal started thinking of retirement and asked PCB to make it clear if it has him in its future plans.
But later he decided to sit with the selectors to discuss his future. He said that he was positive and not ready to leave without a fight.
Ajmal was at the top in the ICC ODI bowlers’ rakings till March 2015, but his deliveries lacked the earlier magic and batsmen faced no problems in handling his deliveries.
Now he has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket after the ongoing National Twenty20 tournament. “I got whatever goals I had set for myself and I am satisfied with my achievements,” he has said.
Ajmal was Man-of-the-Series against England in 2012 in the UAE when he took 24 wickets in the three-Test series, playing decisive role in Pakistan’s first-ever Test whitewash against England.
The 40-year-old Ajmal played 35 Tests and took 178 wickets at an average of 28.10. He last played against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2014 where his bowling action was reported for a second time.
His action was first reported during the One-day International series against Australia in the UAE in 2009.
He was more effective in ODIs as he grabbed 184 wickets in 113 appearances, averaging 22.72.
In Twenty20 Internationals, his economy rate of 6.36 was impressive with 85 wickets in 64 matches.
In his brief career of around 10 years, Ajmal played 148 first-class matches and took 578 wickets at an average of 26.87. His best bowling figures were 7-19. Seven times, he took ten or more wickets in a match. On 39 occasions, he took five wickets in an innings.
Ajmal played the first two editions of Pakistan Super League (PSL) for Islamabad United and after his retirement announcement, Islamabad United appointed him as spin bowling coach for PSL 3.
Regarding Ajmal’s appointment, Islamabad United Head Coach Dean Jones said: “We have huge respect for him as a cricketer and future coach. He was very helpful in developing young Shadab Khan in PSL’s second edition and we hope that he will be more useful in future.”