ABU DHABI: There was fresh scrutiny on Mohammad Hafeez’s bowling action when Ross Taylor appeared to publicly question its legality during the course of the first ODI between Pakistan and New Zealand in Abu Dhabi.
Taylor made the gesture at the end of Hafeez’s first over, when he seemed to look directly at the umpires – or his partner at the non-striker’s end Tom Latham – and mimicked delivering the ball with a bent arm. Whether or not it was an attempt to call attention to Hafeez’s action, it enraged the Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who had a lengthy chat with the umpires, and had to be calmed down.
That wasn’t the end of the episode as Sarfraz persisted with Hafeez, and kept exchanging comments with Taylor, looking none too happy with the New Zealand batsman.
The umpires Shozab Raza and Joel Wilson eventually got involved and had a chat with Taylor. As well as how it impacts how the officials view Hafeez’s action, Taylor could face the possibility of sanctions himself. They may not relate to dissent but there is a clause in the ICC rulebook that deals with players’ on-field behavior.
A similar incident had occurred in 2009 when Saeed Ajmal was called for a suspect action and he felt it had been the result of an opposition batsman – in that case, Australia’s Shane Watson – who had directed the umpire’s attention to the way he bowled his doosra.
That this one involves Hafeez makes it particularly uncomfortable for Pakistan. The ICC has ruled his action illegal no fewer than four times in his career; three of them in the last four years.
Hafeez was first reported almost 14 years ago during an ODI tri-series in Australia in 2005. Regulations concerning illegal actions were different back then and he soon returned. In 2014, his action was reported during the Champions League T20, and then again following a Test match against New Zealand later that year. He was suspended from bowling after results indicated the flex of his elbow was more than the allowed 15 degrees.