KARACHI: Pakistan all-rounder Muhammad Hafeez failed his bowling action test conducted at the Loughborough University and has been suspended from bowling with immediate effect as he was unable to bowl even a single delivery within the 15-degree elbow flexion limit set by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The Express Tribune has learnt that Hafeez was asked to bowl four overs during the test, with all 24 deliveries being deemed illegal. He was asked to bowl two overs around the wicket and two over the wicket.
The first — bowled around the wicket — was bowled at an average flex of 28 degrees, with his elbow flex being between 26 and 30 degrees.
In the second over — also bowled around the wicket — Hafeez’s flex improved a bit, with the smallest bend being at 23, while the largest remained at 30 degrees. His average elbow bend of 27 was also better than the first over but still considerably over the allowed limit.
He was then asked to bowl over the wicket in the third over, where his deliveries varied from a minimum of 22 degrees to a maximum of 31, while the fourth over was also bowled over the wicket where he bowled between 21 and 29 degrees, at an average of 26 degrees.
The test was performed on November 24 by the ICC’s accredited team of Human Movement Specialists using the Loughborough facility.
“The analysis revealed that all his deliveries exceeded the 15 degrees level of tolerance permitted under the regulations,” confirmed the ICC press release.
Hafeez, who was reported after the first Test against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi last month, can apply for a reassessment in accordance with clause 2.4 of the Regulations for the Review of Bowlers Reported with Suspected Illegal Bowling Actions.
“It’s a really big setback for Pakistan that Hafeez has been suspended because he has been an impact player for Pakistan,” said chief selector Moin Khan.
World Cup plans hit hard
Pakistan’s World Cup plans have been further hit by the unexpected suspension. Hafeez had emerged as Pakistan’s main off-spinner after the suspension of ace spinner Saeed Ajmal due to the same reason but the side may now have to cope without both.
Within a few months, Pakistan have lost Ajmal – the world best bowlers in ODIs – and Hafeez – the world’s second best ODI all-rounder. “Now that it has happened just before the world cup, it has certainly derailed our plans a bit but I hope the spinners who have done well in the absence of Ajmal and Hafeez will continue doing well in the future,” said Moin.
Pakistan were heavily banking on the two players for the mega event and will now have to come up with a backup plan quickly.
Former Test cricketer and ex-chief selector Iqbal Qasim said that the think tank would need to act quickly to find a solution. “It’s really sad that now Pakistan have lost Hafeez for the time being with the World Cup so close,” Qasim told The Express Tribune. “We’re already without Ajmal and now Hafeez’s suspension has made it worse because the World Cup plans have been hit hard. There is still time left in the naming of the final 15-man squad for the mega event and hopefully Hafeez will be cleared in time.”
Qasim added that the rules have suddenly become stricter from the ICC which has made things more difficult for bowlers.
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