Worcestershire: Saeed Ajmal can be "valuable asset" to county

By Ged ScottBBC Sport
Saeed Ajmal
Saeed Ajmal was left out of Pakistan's squad for this month's test series against Sri Lanka

Worcestershire captain Daryl Mitchell hopes that Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal can still prove a "valuable asset" following his return to the county.

Ajmal, 37, is expected to start a third spell with Worcestershire in Friday's T20 Blast game against Northants.

He has played a handful of games since returning in February from a worldwide ban for having an illegal action.

But Mitchell insists: "He knows how to bowl and where to bowl, and how to suss batsmen out."

Mitchell, who proved Worcestershire's matchwinner with both bat and ball in last Friday night's T20 win over Leicestershire, added: "I'm sure he will be a valuable asset in all forms again.

"I'm looking forward to having Saeed in our team again. He is a great guy to have in our dressing room."

Ajmal will be available initially for seven T20 Blast appearances and three County Championship matches, at a time when Worcestershire will be doubly strengthened by the month-long return of Moeen Ali from England duty.

If Ajmal can get back to anywhere near his best, Pakistan, who have opted not to pick him for this month's Test series with Sri Lanka, would have the opportunity to recall him for the ODI and T20 internationals against the Sri Lankans from 11 July to 1 August.

Ajmal's recent record
Saeed Ajmal was banned from bowling by the International Cricket Council last September after his action was deemed illegal. He was cleared to resume in February, after which he was then picked by Pakistan for their tour to Bangladesh in April.
He played two one-day internationals and a T20 against Bangladesh, proving unusually expensive. He went for 74 runs in 10 overs in the first game, 49 off 9.1 overs in the second and for 25 off 20 balls in the T20. Pakistan lost all three matches. He has since played three domestic T20 matches in Pakistan for Faisalabad Wolves, conceding 91 runs from a total of 11 overs bowled.

But Pakistan TV analyst Bazid Khan, son of former Test great Majid Khan, does not believe Ajmal, who took 63 wickets in nine Championship matches when he bowled Worcestershire to promotion last summer, will prove so successful.

"I don't think he will ever be the same bowler again," said Khan. "Whilst we know he is hard working and big-hearted, unless he can reinvent himself as a bowler who can stop runs in the mid-overs and keep it tight, he will struggle to keep his place in the Pakistan team.

"The fact is that Saeed Ajmal was getting prodigious amount of spin and his doosra was effective due to the flex in his previous action.

"We can give him a year or so to prove himself but, in my view, his potency with which he used to bowl at his opponents will never be the same."

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