Ajmal deserves to be named for award
10 September, 2012
LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) still undecided either to boycott the ICC annual awards ceremony or to attend or otherwise as the board chairman Zaka Ashraf has not yet given up hope for Saeed Ajmal's inclusion in the ICC award list.
PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf revealed: “We are discussing the issue with the ICC and no final decision has been taken yet to boycott the award ceremony or not.”
He should have been included in the award list as per his performances. In the past, protests from member boards have compelled the ICC to reconsider the final list of nominees and change them,” Zaka said and added: “It is also an 'oversight' in Ajmal's case. The system of appointing the jury is flawed. We would not have objected had he not won the award after being short listed but in this case, he has been 'overlooked' for his performance.”
Former Test players, commentators and experts including former England captain Tony Greig, New Zealand's Danny Morrison and a number of ex-Pakistani cricketers including Imran Khan and Wasim Akram have already expressed their shock over Ajmal's omission from the Test cricketer of the year award nomination. Former captain Imran Khan has termed Ajmal's omission from the short-list of candidates for the ICC Cricketer of the Year award as a 'great injustice'.
On the other hand, cricket-mad fans exerting heavy pressure on the board through protests and rallies across the country to boycott the ICC annual awards ceremony.
A 32-man independent jury comprising former players, officials and journalists provoked anger in Pakistan after excluding Ajmal from the four-man list, which is made up of Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara, Australian Michael Clarke and South Africans Vernon Philander and Hashim Amla.
The PCB earlier this week lodged a protest with the game's governing body, demanding a review of the short-list but were rejected. The board subsequently said it was considering boycotting the ceremony.
“It is a great injustice to a player who is a match-winner in all formats of the game and his omission was surprising,” said Imran Khan. Another former captain Ramiz Raja said Ajmal was hard done by the jury. “I feel Ajmal was hard done by the jury and it is a serious case for review because if performers are not picked then the credibility (of awards) is missing,” Ramiz said and added: “It's a great honour for the player to win an award and it hurts not only Pakistan but the whole community.”
Former captain and coach Waqar Younis said he didn't understand the system. “I don't know how this system is working. Maybe the system needs to be reviewed because 32 people are too much. On the basis of performance, you can't overlook Ajmal and it comes as a great surprise to me.”
Meanwhile, in the Cricketer of the Year category are three batsmen - Hashim Amla, Michael Clarke and Kumar Sangakkara - and a lone bowler, Vernon Philander. The same four have also been nominated for the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year.
Among the nominees for the ICC Cricketer of the Year in one-day internationals, Lasith Malinga is the lone bowler; the others are Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Sangakkara again.
The players have been nominated for their performances during the period between August 4, 2011 and August 6, 2012 and there can be no arguments against their merit. Sangakkara (1,444 runs in Tests, 1,457 in ODIs), Clarke (1,355 runs in Tests, 759 in ODIs), Amla (915 runs in Tests, 419 in ODIs), Kohli (1,733 runs in ODIs) and Dhoni (859 runs in ODIs) have certainly earned their place.
Still, Pakistan are right to be irked by Saeed Ajmal's absence from the shortlist. The off-spinner, who has enhanced his reputation in the series against Australia here, was the leading wicket-taker in international cricket during the award period. He was the highest wicket taker in Test cricket (72) during that period; Philander had 56. In ODIs, his tally (37 from 23 matches) was the second highest behind Malinga's 62 from 37 games.
If you add his 11 victims in Twenty20s, Ajmal had an aggregate haul of 120. R Ashwin, with 70, was the next best. Those numbers certainly make him worthy of a place on that shortlist.