Pakistan bowler Ajmal hits back at 'chucker' claims after record figures against England
Saeed Ajmal has hit back at critics who questioned the legality of his action after he had put England in dire trouble in the first Test.
The world No 1 Test nation endured a torrid time against the unorthodox Pakistan off-spinner, collapsing to 192 all out, but they had no quibbles afterwards about the straightness of the arm which had taken a career-best seven for 55 on day one of this three-match series in the UAE.
Instead, the noises off came from a former England captain several thousand miles away in London – Bob Willis voicing his teatime opinion, in a broadcast studio, that Ajmal is pushing the limits of the current Laws of Cricket.
In a spin: Saeed Ajmal was criticised in some quarters over his bowling action
Ajmal has already been reported and cleared in 2009 of transgressing the permitted straightening of his arm. And he had to account for himself again.
'I'm just concentrating on my bowling. It's the umpires' and match referee's responsibility to see if there is any problem with my action,' he said. 'They did it to [former Pakistan off-spinner] Saqlain Mushtaq. They are doing it with me.
'I have played county cricket, and there has been no problem with my action.'
There was no equivocation from Matt Prior, who top-scored 70 not out, either.
'On his action, it's not something that
we are concerned about or talk about in the dressing room,' said
England's wicketkeeper-batsman. 'It's got nothing to do with us. If
other people want to do that, it's up to them.'
Top man: Ajmal posted career-best figures as England collapsed on day one
Prior acknowledged that, irrespective of Ajmal's methods, England's batsmen fell short of their own expectations. But he remains confident the tourists can still fight back here.
'Obviously today has not gone as we wanted,' he said. 'But it's not all over – we can't just give it up now. We've got a huge day tomorrow, and we're very confident we can pull something out of this game.
'The great thing is that this team's
been in tough positions and fought our way back. We've won and saved
Test matches from this position. So it's nothing new.'
discounted the theory that England were fazed by the hype about Ajmal's
mystery deliveries during the build-up to this series.
Defence: Ajmal was cleared in 2009
'I don't think he got in our heads,' Prior said. 'Obviously, we spoke about him because he's a big threat. I don't think it's a case of us over-thinking or fearing – we just didn't quite get it right. He bowled well. Hats off to him.'
Prior's innings was a triumph of self-discipline, the natural strokemaker restricting himself to three boundaries from 154 balls.
'I played very straight and was very watchful, and that's maybe the way we have to look at it,' he said. 'It's all very well going out and trying to get on the top of the bowlers. But this is just a reminder that subcontinental cricket is slightly more attritional, and you have to play the long game.
'He didn't bowl anything that we weren't prepared for, weren't expecting. He just had a good day. Cricketers are allowed to do that.
'I think the batters will hold their hands up and say, 'Right, we didn't quite get it right today. Maybe we played a few cross-batted shots when perhaps we needed to play straight'.
'But look around that room, we've got a class batting outfit. One bad day at the office doesn't suddenly turn that all round. It's not all panic stations.'
For Ajmal – despite the hint of controversy – it was simply a day to savour.
'It's the best performance of my life,' he said. 'I bowled wicket to wicket, and there were a few bad shots as well. There was low bounce, and some of them played cross-bat shots.
'We're not surprised. We've been working on a plan, and we've bowled them out as per the plan.'