Willis criticism of Saeed Ajmal angers Rhodes

Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes has criticised Bob Willis for raising doubts about the legality of Saeed Ajmal’s bowling action after the Pakistan off-spinner had taken a career-best seven for 55 in the first Test against England in Dubai.

Former England captain Willis suggested that Ajmal was pushing the laws of cricket to the limit with his controversial action which includes the ability to bowl the doosra.

Ajmal had a stint as Worcestershire’s overseas player last summer and is in talks with the county to return as a Twenty20 specialist for part of the forthcoming domestic season.

Rhodes, Ajmal’s county coach, jumped to the defence of his player and suggested that Willis’s comments were sour grapes after the off-spinner had caused problems for the world’s top-ranked Test team.

“I think he [Ajmal] is a wonderfully gifted spin bowler who has tremendous skills and who is on top of his game with the way he’s performing at the moment,” Rhodes said.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Bob Willis has said something like that. He’s paid to be controversial and almost every cricketer has been a victim of Bob at some stage, myself included.

“From my point of view, having worked with Ajmal last summer I have no problem with his action at all. The reason people question his action is because they are envious of what he can do.

“Different things happen when he bowls and because his action is unusual people suspect that something is wrong.

“I’m supportive of him and I’m someone that wants England to do well even though he played for us [Worcestershire].

“I’m not surprised that Bob has made these comments when Ajmal has had a career-best performance, but I don’t want it to be a sour grapes situation.

“But if England are going to win this series they will have to get on top of Ajmal.”

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