KARACHI: Former Pakistan off-spinner Tauseef Ahmed has advised the team management to go easy on Saeed Ajmal, saying that there is no adequate backup in the event of an injury to the 34-year-old.
Ajmal has missed only a handful of matches since making his debut in 2008. His importance is such that Pakistan’s defeat in the last One-Day International (ODI) against Sri Lanka was blamed on the team management after they decided to exclude him from the line-up. While the decision was criticised, Tauseef, who played 34 Tests and 70 ODIs, said that the off-spinner needed to be handled with care due to the absence of quality replacement.
“Ajmal is an asset for Pakistan and he is not getting any younger,” Tauseef told The Express Tribune. “He should be handled with great care. He has bowled tirelessly and won matches for Pakistan. To enable him to keep going for a long time, he needs to be played only in important matches and series because there is no off-spinner in the domestic circuit who could replace him if he gets injured.”
According to Tauseef, Pakistan struggled to find an able replacement for former off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq whose career was also brought to a halt due to injuries when it was at its peak. Tauseef added that a lesson needed to be learnt from that episode.
“Specialised camps for spinners will allow young players to learn a lot, work on specific areas and ultimately a good prospect can be spotted.”
Meanwhile, speaking on Ajmal, the former cricketer said that the bowler needs to work on his off-spinners since he has been taking majority of his wickets through the doosra, and if that does not work, wickets are hard to come by. Tauseef cited the example of England’s Graeme Swann who has command over off-spin as he bowls with a lot of guile that helps him take wickets even in the toughest of conditions.
“Ajmal should work on his basic off-spin because he was irritated by Sri Lanka players as they killed his doosra by continuously employing sweeps and reverse sweeps. This is why he was less effective than usual but he’s a fighter and will definitely bounce back.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2012.