Dr Paul Hurrion specializes in biomechanical analysis where he uses high-speed cameras, force platforms and computers and is a leading biomechanist contracted to UK Athletics, International Cricket Council (ICC), England Cricket Board, and British Diving.
One of Dr Hurrion's most recent projects involved Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, who was recently banned from bowling by the ICC and required remedial work on his action. Dr Hurrion played a key role in the spinner successfully re-modelling his action, by ensuring that Ajmal's strength and speed now come from the shoulder rather than the elbow.
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Dr Hurrion talked about his work with Ajmal, what the spinner now needs to do to once again become a force to be reckoned with, and what the PCB needs to do to minimise the chances of bowlers developing suspect actions.
By PakPassion.net (20th October, 2015)
PakPassion.net : You have worked very closely with Saeed Ajmal during his county season in 2015, what do you have to say about his new action?
Dr. Paul Hurrion : Saeed has worked very hard during the off-season and during the recent English summer. During the indoor testing we had created a wonderful blueprint to work from for all his deliveries. This involved the speed of the ball through the air, different variations and the revolutions imparted on the ball. During the last unofficial test at Edgbaston, all his deliveries were under 10 degrees at an average of 7.5 degrees.
The main priority at the start of the season was to ensure that Saeed's action remained legal for the remainder of his career. The world media and more importantly the ICC and ECB will be observing his action during matches around the world.
The aim was to ensure the flex in Saeed's action remained under ten degrees of extension at all times using all his variations. The goal was simple; never to come under suspicion again.
PakPassion.net : What suggestions did you make to him about his new action in terms of what he needs to do to improve it?
Dr. Paul Hurrion : The journey has just started for Saeed, his new legal action will become more effective in the long term, however under pressure the first thing to change is always the last thing that was learnt! It is vital that Saeed keeps up with the physical and technical drills we have given him. The more instinctive this becomes, the easier it will be to bowl to a plan and to different batsmen etc.
For example, when working with a professional golfer you need to allow a minimum of approximately 6-8 weeks for the player to implement a change and then measure and reassess that change. It is then a constant 6-8 week block of work from the athlete before being measured again to assess the performance. This is an on-going process year on year!
PakPassion.net : Do you think he is ready to return to the Pakistan side, or does he need to to work more on his action to match his previous performance?
Dr. Paul Hurrion : I firmly believe that if Saeed continues to work hard and gets used to bowling with the new action, he could become the World No 1 in all forms of cricket. However the new action has to be able to cope under pressure. The action is starting to feel more repeatable day by day, however the physical demands of the new action are greater for the shoulder, as this is required to impart the revolutions on the ball. As he becomes stronger, the revolutions will increase.
PakPassion.net : Can he be really become the same lethal bowler he was before?
Dr. Paul Hurrion : Yes, providing he continues his drills and physical conditioning. He needs to be more focused and prepare better for matches, along with playing on pitches that help spinners!
PakPassion.net : Can you help any other bowlers in Pakistan who are having issues with their actions?
Dr. Paul Hurrion : Of course, providing they have the desire to change and improve their actions. It takes hard work and the ability to overcome setbacks along the way.
PakPassion.net : Would you travel to Pakistan to help bowlers?
Dr. Paul Hurrion : Yes
PakPassion.net : What can be done to ensure bowling actions remain legal?
Dr. Paul Hurrion : Emerging/junior players should have a closer monitoring process on their actions throughout the age groups - this ultimately is down to coach education. Pakistani coaches need to have the key biomechanical points in which to develop spinners at a younger age legally and effectively. The later you leave it to change a bowler's action, the harder it is to make the technical change.
Saeed's new remodeled action proves that given the time, dedication and correct biomechanics a bowler can change his action for the better. The key now is for the new action to hold up under the pressure of competition and deliver at the very highest stage once more.