Abu Dhabi: Former Pakistan cricket chief Nasim Ashraf said on Wednesday he regretted that a failure to deal with bowlers with suspect actions had resulted in the loss of ace spinner Saeed Ajmal and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez.
Ajmal was suspended in September for illegal action while Hafeez was sidelined two months later, seriously hitting Pakistan`s preparations for next years`s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Their suspensions were part of a massive crackdown on chuckers by the International Cricket Council (ICC) started in June this year.
Since then ten bowlers have been reported for suspect actions, and seven of those suspended.
Sri Lanka`s Sachitra Senanayake and New Zealand`s Kane Williamson were cleared earlier this month.
Ashraf claimed he set up a laboratory in the Pakistan Cricket Board`s (PCB) Lahore headquarters in 2007 but it was not made operative after he resigned a year later.
"It`s a great loss to lose bowlers like Ajmal and Hafeez," Ashraf told reporters.
"We invested in the bio-mechanic lab in 2007 and had our men trained in Australia but unfortunately the board changed the next year and the lab couldn`t get operative."
Since Ajmal`s suspension the PCB has launched its own crackdown, suspending 16 bowlers in domestic cricket.
Ashraf said chucking was common in Pakistan`s domestic cricket.
"In our cricket the phenomenon of chucking was very common and there was no testing lab. Had it happened we would not have lost Ajmal and Hafeez just a few months from the World Cup," said Ashraf who was PCB head between October 2006 to September 2008.
"At that time there was no lab other than the one in Australia and ours would have been the second and the Asian Cricket Council had promised to use that facility for Asian bowlers," said Ashraf.
Ashraf said he hoped that Ajmal can fight his way back.
"I think it will be tough for Ajmal," said Ashraf of the bowler who is doing remedial work before another reassessment on his action.
"I have a belief in Ajmal who is a fighter and has a strong will and he will not give up easily, so I pray that he gets cleared and bowls at the same level as he used to do before the suspension."
Ashraf said sports medicine can help such bowlers who have a kink in their arm. Under the ICC rules all bowlers are allowed to flex their elbow by 15 degrees, beyond which the action is deemed illegal.