Pakistan is known for producing some of the world’s leading fast bowling talents. However, their spin bowlers have also ruled from time to time, and one such spinner who made a name for himself after making his international debut at the age of 31 was Saeed Ajmal. The right-arm spinner played 35 Tests, 113 ODIs and 64 T20Is for the national team and cemented his place as one of the most dangerous spinners during his prime.
Ajmal’s career may have been marred by controversies surrounding his bowling action, but the former off-spinner has now revealed that there was a lot of resistance to the prospect of him representing Pakistan when he was first picked for the team in 2008. On Pakistan’s ‘Ultra Age’ podcast, Ajmal revealed that the then PCB chief selector had said that he might drop the off-spinner if given a chance in the nets.
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“My name was announced for the 2008 Asia Cup on trial basis. After that we will select you. It’s been 14 years since I played cricket, haven’t you come to know who Saeed Ajmal is? I refused. You make an announcement for me on 15th, only then I will come, otherwise I am happy in my home. (I was selected for the 2008 Asia Cup on trial basis. I was playing in Pakistan for 14 years, don’t they know who I am? I denied. I said either you can select me in the 15-man squad Choose, or not.) Don’t pick me up at all),” Ajmal narrated the story about his first Pakistan call-up.
“It is okay to say untoward. Mudassar Nazar called me, I said sorry, I am not coming. He said that excesses are happening with you, you are right. Misbah called me, I said Misbah you know me, I will stick to my rules. I have a respect, I have topped in Pakistan, I am not a fakir. If you don’t value domestic cricket, then I am not coming. (He said ok. Mudassar Nazar called me, I said sorry but I can’t come. He accepted that I was right. Misbah called me and I told him I have to stick to my rules. I respect I am performing in Pakistan. If you cannot give importance to domestic cricket, then I cannot come.’
Ajmal was eventually selected for the 15-man squad for the Asia Cup, and the former spinner then revealed what Pakistan’s then chief selector had said about him.
“When the team was announced at night, my name came up. The camp was set up in Karachi. The chief selector at that time said, ‘Yeh jo select kiya hai Shoaib Malik and Misbah ne, agar main chahu to iss player ko, main post pekhnene jau aur main hi nahi se bahar hoon’. I have heard this, Malik and Misbah also heard it. Misbah said Saeed bhai should not be disappointed. We will feed you (The same night, the team was announced and I was selected. The camp was in Karachi and I remember the chief selector saying, “This boy, selected by Shoaib Malik and Misbah…if I want, I can I can face the player in the nets and he won’t be able to get me out. I heard it. Misbah and Malik heard it too. Misbah came up to me and said, ‘Don’t be discouraged. We will play you’), Ajmal Told .