Saeed Ajmal has arguably been the best player in county cricket this season. The Pakistan international has helped Worcestershire to the top of division two of the County Championship and with a game in hand, and 22 points in front of their nearest rival, are in pole position for promotion to division one.

Worcestershire are also well-placed, in fourth spot, in the NatWest T20 Blast North Group.

However, Ajmal has now left New Road to link up with his Pakistan team-mates ahead of their two-match Test series against Sri Lanka and three One-day internationals.

The question is, how will Worcestershire cope without their mercurial spin bowler?

Ajmal, with 63 Championship wickets this season, is the leading wicket taker in division two. He is 19 wickets ahead of second-placed Mark Footitt for Derbyshire. Ajmal has claimed five wickets in an innings on six occasions and two ten wicket match hauls. His average, 16.48, is also by far the best of all bowlers who have bowled over 150 overs this season.

Pressure on Ajmal

Worcestershire have placed a lot of pressure on Ajmal by asking him to bowl a huge amount of overs. He is the only bowler to have bowled over 400 overs this season in the Championship and his 417 is 47 overs more than his nearest rival, Charlie Shreck of Leicestershire.

In the T20 Blast competition Ajmal has taken 12 wickets in ten matches at an average of 19.75, with an economy rate of just over 6.

His last Championship game against Leicestershire was typical of his season as he captured seven wickets in the match to steer his side to a 204 run victory at New Road which cemented their position at the top of the table.

Ajmal effective on and off the pitch

As well as his bowling performances Ajmal has been fantastic off the pitch, offering guidance and support to those around him, not least England spin hopeful Moeen Ali, and has been a great advisor to Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell during games.

Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes will certainly be pulling out all the stops to make sure Ajmal returns to the club in 2015.

Ajmal is replaced in the Worcestershire side by New Zealand's 28-year-old international left-arm paceman Mitchell McClenaghan.

Topics:
Sri Lanka cricket
England cricket
Pakistan cricket
Cricket