Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England batsman Ian Bell has revealed that former Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal was tougher to play than legendary Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.
Muralitharan took 800 wickets in 133 Tests at an average of 22.72 and 534 wickets in 350 ODIs at an average of 23.08.
As for Ajmal, he claimed 178 wickets in 35 Tests at an average of 28.10 and 184 wickets in 113 ODIs at an average of 22.72.
In regards to his T20 International career, Ajmal picked up 85 wickets in 64 games at an average of 17.83.
“I found Muralitharan, who has 800 [Test] wickets, easier to play than Ajmal,” Bell, who was talking about England’s series against Pakistan in the UAE in 2012, said on Islamabad United’s YouTube channel as quoted by Cricket Pakistan. “Everyone has their individual feelings and all bowlers are different. I felt the longer I was at the crease, I could start to pick Murali. Whereas, with Ajmal, the longer I was there, the worse it used to get.
“The quality of spin that we played in that series was right up there with some of the best that I have played. Ajmal was at his absolute peak. As a batting unit, we really struggled to pick him. [Abdur] Rehman bowled beautifully as well. Even speaking to KP, who doesn’t admit very often, I don’t think he had a lot of answers in that series at all.”
Meanwhile, Bell also admitted that Ajmal and the Australian duo of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne were the toughest bowlers he faced in his career.
“Whenever I am asked this, I say Warne and McGrath together because cricket is all about partnerships. If someone is bowling well at one end but badly at the other, then there is no pressure on the batsman,” he said. “But if I had to pick only one, I would still say Ajmal in the UAE was as hard as it gets.
“I think he got me out in the nets as well, during my time with Islamabad United.”