More than six years may have passed but Pakistan’s top off-spinner Sajeed Ajmal still can’t “understand” how Sachin Tendulkar was adjudged not out when he was rapped on the pad by him during the 2011 World Cup semi-final.
The 40-year-old Ajmal retired from all cricket after Faislabad lost to Lahore in the National T20 Championship on Wednesday.
Tendulkar, who top-scored with 85 in that game against arch-rivals India at Mohali, at times struggled to pick Ajmal’s variations. It was Ajmal who finally dismissed Tendulkar.
“I was totally convinced I had him in front of the stumps but how the umpires didn’t give him out I still can’t understand,” Ajmal said. (In fact, he was given out by the on-field umpire but Tendulkar’s referral using DRS showed the ball was missing the stumps.)
He admitted that bowling to Indian batsmen spurred him on.
“It was always a test of skills and nerves when bowling to Tendulkar and company.”
After a successful but controversial career, Ajmal finished with 178 wickets in 35 Tests, the last of which was at Galle in Sri Lanka in 2014, where his bowling action was reported for a second time.
Ajmal brought the curtains down on his cricket career with a “heavy heart”, criticising the ICC’s protocol to assess bowling actions on his way out.
His time in the limelight cut short following a temporary ban for chucking, Ajmal returned to the sport in 2015 with a remodelled action but without much success.
“I am retiring today and at 40 years of age I thought it is now time for me to make way for younger players. I got this feeling I was being considered extra baggage even in domestic teams and I didn’t want to go out losing my respect,” Ajmal told PTI in an interview.
“I am retiring with a heavy heart because firstly I think the ICC’s protocol is too harsh and if all bowlers today playing international cricket are tested I am sure at least 90 percent will fail to clear this protocol,” Ajmal said.
He felt that if the Pakistan Cricket Board had fought his case more vociferously at the ICC, he would have left a satisfied man.
“The board did support me after my bowling action was declared illegal but I think they could have done more at least using my case to challenge this protocol at the ICC level,” he added.
Asked what issues he had with the ICC protocol, Ajmal said it didn’t take into account the fact that some bowlers had natural medical issues with their arm while some may have developed problems after some accident.
“To be honest if you talk about the current extension of the elbow allowed I don’t think many of the current bowlers meet the ICC standards all the time. Some relaxation has to be allowed on medical grounds.”
Ajmal has always claimed that a road accident caused his arm to bend to some extent.
Ajmal, who called it quits after leading Faisalabad in the National T20 Championship, said he wished his last match was at the international arena.
“I always enjoyed the challenge of international cricket and it would have been ideal to retire with a match for Pakistan.”
Ajmal said he had completed level two coaching and would remain in touch with the sport by coaching youngsters.