Rajan’s Wrong-un: Ajmal is so hooked on doosras he chucks in the towel on off-breaks

World Cup Diary
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The Independent Online

While recognising that he has been cleared by the ICC, this column has no qualms whatsoever about declaring Saeed Ajmal of Pakistan a chucker. Quite aside from the extremely pronounced bend in his arm, his whole action is designed around the need to straighten his bowling elbow, and so deliver the doosra.

Forgive me, then, if I note that he seemed yesterday in the victory over Canada to have followed the course of all those who take up the doosra – Muttiah Muralitharan aside – in having lost his stock ball, the off-break. Saqlain Mushtaq lost it altogether, and Harbhajan Singh has never recovered the fizz and dip of his early career since he started toying with the doosra.

That delivery, which leaves the right-hander, is basically a hallucinogenic drug. It makes you feel good for a while, but the comedown just isn't worth it. Ajmal never got much turn from his off-break; but on yesterday's evidence, he basically now just bowls top-spinners that deviate slightly off the pitch. Good riddance.

Captain Afridi won't look slack in anger

Who was it, incidentally, that the Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, an old friend of this column, was chiding in the field in Colombo yesterday? Afridi, who later took 5 for 23 and is the top wicket-taker in the tournament, seemed less than pleased that his long-off was stood on the boundary with arms folded.

Alas, the camera failed to linger on this recalcitrant fielder long enough for us to discover his identity. What we did see was Afridi gesticulating fiercely, irate at this comrade's slackness.

Funny that, because in his younger days, long before he was blessed with the captain's armband, Afridi had a reputation as being something of an arm-folder himself. And – my goodness – who's this under the cap?