There is little to argue whether Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez are not match winners for Pakistan but a debate may follow if the question is reiterated whether the two players will be match winners with amended action.
Both the players are suspended from bowling in international matches after their bowling action was found illegal.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) need to evaluate and anticipate that even if Ajmal and Hafeez are cleared by ICC, will they be able to bowl lethally especially in Ajmal’s case when they face different teams aspiring to become World Champions Down Under. Will they be good as they had been after the amended action?
If Ajmal is not cleared by ICC then certainly he is out of the picture but Hafeez may find a place in the squad, even if not cleared of chucking, as specialist batsman. However, many experts have argued that Hafeez doesn’t deserve a place in the final squad only as a batsman.
Saeed Ajmal has bowled in two matches against Kenya in recently concluded five-match series. In the first match he took one wicket for 23 runs in six overs. In the second match, Ajmal victims were two tail-ender. He conceded 25 runs in 6.1 overs.
However, it will be too early to say that Ajmal is no more destructive as he had been on the basis of performances in only two low-profile matches.
But it cannot also be denied that the bowlers, who had been bowling for a long time with a particular action, can be able to bowl with the same skills effectively. After all the flair Ajmal get in years was gained in the same action, which he now must quit to stay in international arena. The same goes with Mohammad Hafeez.
The duo are the top ranked bowlers for Pakistan with Ajmal still sitting at No 2 while Hafeez sitting at No 10 in ICC rankings for bowlers. With little chance that the duo would be able to bowl in World Cup, Pakistan’s World Cup title bid has been hit hard.
Times are difficult for Pakistan cricket, but PCB should now look forward and search for better options. A tough decision to make but it is the need of the hour.
PCB has put Ajmal and Hafeez in the preliminary 30-member squad with a hope that they might be cleared and may take the flight with the team for Australia and New Zealand in February next year. The board must also keep other options open and start mentally preparing the possible replacements for the duo.