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Test reveals Ajmal's elbow extension beyond 40 degrees

Karachi: Pakistan's cricket chief Friday revealed that spinner Saeed Ajmal's arm extension was on average more than double the permitted limit during tests which led to the spinner's suspension from international cricket.

The 36-year-old was banned on Tuesday after failing tests in an Australian biomechanics lab ordered when umpires reported his bowling action during last month's Galle Test against Sri Lanka. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan told AFP that Ajmal's arm had vastly exceeded the permitted 15 degrees of straightening.

"Some of the deliveries had very high elbow extension, over 40 degrees," Khan said of the 23-page report on the tests. Under International Cricket Council (ICC) rules, a bowler is allowed to straighten his elbow by a maximum of 15 degrees while bowling -- any more is deemed to be throwing, or "chucking".

Khan said it was not just occasional deliveries that were a problem -- the average extension during Ajmal's deliveries was also very high. "The mean of Ajmal's deliveries was 37 degrees which again is high and now we have a challenge to do the remedial work," said Khan.

When Ajmal was first reported in 2009 for his "doosra" he was cleared on medical grounds -- injuries which were also recorded in the latest report. The testing process involved 27 cameras, including high speed cinematic cameras for side-on and behind the bowler's arm and three high-speed mobile video cameras, as well as an overhead standard video camera.

Off-break worst offender
The report said Ajmal appeared to emulate his match bowling action during the tests, which involved him bowling eight overs, and extended his elbow by well over 15 degrees during all deliveries, of all delivery types. All of his deliveries were tested -- off-breaks, doosra, quicker balls -- over and round the wicket.

His off-breaks were found to be the biggest offenders, with elbow extension of 43 degrees. Ajmal's doosra had an elbow extension of 42 degrees, while his quicker deliveries were measured at 39 degrees, though the same delivery from over the wicket went to 43 degrees.

Ajmal will appear before a PCB committee on illegal deliveries on Monday to start work to bring his action back within the rules. The PCB has also hired former off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq to help Ajmal overcome flaws in his action.

Saqlain is widely regarded as the inventor of the "doosra", a delivery which turns the other way than the normal off-spin but is controversial as experts -- and some bowlers -- believe it cannot be bowled without transgressing the 15-degree limit. After the remedial work, Ajmal can apply to the ICC for another reassessment of his action and if cleared he can resume bowling at international level.

The loss of Ajmal is a major blow to Pakistan's chances in next month's series against Australia in United Arab Emirates and more importantly in next year's World Cup. Australia and New Zealand co-host the World Cup in February-March.

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