Muttiah Muralitharan says Saeed Ajmal can ‘definitely’ correct bowling action

'If he works on it for two or three months' says Muttiah Muralitharan, 'nothing is impossible in life', speaking from Sharjah where he is consulting with Australia on spin-bowling.

Saeed Ajmal was banned for a spin bowling action that well exceeded the allowed 15 degrees bend. Ishara S Kodikara / AFP
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SHARJAH // Muttiah Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan off-spin great, has backed Saeed Ajmal to return from his ban from bowling.

Muralitharan, who is serving a short-term stint as Australia’s spin-bowling consultant in the UAE, reckons Ajmal can “definitely” correct his illegal bowling action.

Ajmal was banned from bowling when tests on his action revealed him to be flexing his arm more than double the permitted 15 degrees.

The Pakistan off-spinner turns 37 on Tuesday and has bowled well over 3,000 overs in all international cricket using his previous method.

However, Muralitharan is certain the remedial work currently being undertaken in the hope that Ajmal can play at February’s World Cup can be successful.

“Definitely, if he works on it for two or three months,” Muralitharan said, after Australia’s win over Pakistan in the opening one-day international at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday night.

“He is working with Saqlain [Mushtaq, the former Pakistan off-spinner]. Hopefully Saqlain will give good tips to him and he can work it out. Nothing is impossible in life.”

Waqar Younis, Pakistan’s head coach, is among a number of people who have questioned the timing of the ICC’s current purge suspect bowling actions.

However, Muralitharan, who had the most critiqued bowling action in the history of cricket, believes the laws need to be observed, no matter the situation.

“The law is there and I also faced the same problems,” said Muralitharan, who has taken more international wickets than anyone else.

“I also went for testing and my [reading] came lower than that [15 degrees of flexion].

“The law has been set for a long time. It says 15 degrees, if the bowler looks suspect the umpires can’t call [a no ball] but they can say they are suspect and they have to go for a test.

“The law was already there, it was there when I was playing also. You have to go and test. If you go under 15, OK.

“If you go over, you have to go and work on your action. That is the basic thing. That is up to any other people to judge, not me.”

Muralitharan says he is proof of the fact the doosra, which is the delivery most often deemed to be suspect among off-spinner, can be delivered within the legal limit.

“I have tested so many times and my doosra is 10.4 degrees,” said Muralitharan, who says he is unlikely to return to playing now he has embarked on his career in coaching.

“I have bowled it and showed it [can be bowled within the legal limit]. It depends on the bowler how they do it, and if you asked Saqlain [who is most regularly credited with inventing the doosra] he would say the same thing.

“If somebody goes beyond the limit, I can’t comment on that. But I can say I can bowl it.”

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