Retired spin king Saqlain Mushtaq has defended the controversial “doosra” delivery he invented, which has come under renewed scrutiny since fellow Pakistani Saaed Ajmal’s chucking ban last week.
The doosra, which means “the second one” in Urdu, turns from legside to offside – the opposite direction to orthodox off breaks, and is considered difficult for batsmen to pick.
Saqlain is credited with its invention, adding to a list of Pakistani innovations in cricket including the batsman’s reverse-sweep and reverse swing bowling.
But the delivery has come to be regarded with deep suspicion by many, with critics suggesting doosra bowlers bend their arm beyond the permissible 15 degree limit.
Saqlain, who took 208 Test and 288 one-day wickets, says the naysayers were wrong.
“Who says doosra is illegal?” he asked on Monday.
“It can easily be delivered within the allowed rules. It is not an easy delivery to bowl but if a bowler becomes expert he doesn’t transgress limits.”
“You need to have strong muscles to bowl a doosra, then fitness matters, also grip, rhythm and follow through. If just one of these things is missing then you get out of limits.”
Saqlain will arrive in Lahore next week to start remedial work on Ajmal’s action, reported during the Galle Test against Sri Lanka last month.
The ban was imposed by the International Cricket Council.
Ajmal’s action was then assessed in a bio-mechanics lab in Brisbane, Australia which revealed he flexes his elbow up to 43 degrees for his off-spinner and 42 for his doosra.
Saqlain said he hoped to alter Ajmal’s action, though some believe Ajmal may be too old to change his ways at 36.
“I am quite hopeful of helping him. I am not making any guarantees but will see his reports and footage and then try my best.”
Ajmal, for his part, told reporters on Monday he was focused on his comeback as he began his remedial programme.
“I am sitting in front of you without any tension, whatever happened was disappointing but I am focused on staging a strong comeback,” he said.
Pakistan have considered off-spinners Atif Maqbool and Adnan Rasool to replace Ajmal in the short-term. Both are prolific performers at domestic level – but both also have suspect actions.