Monday, 26 May 2014

Chucking it

The degree of a bowlers arm seems to be very much en vogue amongst the twitterati at present with Andrew Flintoff posting a photo of an unnamed bowler's arm last week, and Michael Vaughan and Stuart Broad questioning the legitimacy of Saeed Ajmal's action. With Sri Lanka touring, and Senanayake's arm being questioned up and down the land by cricketers, is it time for the ICC to toughen up on the law? Or at least have some sort of uniformity where by all countries have to adhere to the same process?

Ajmal...15 degrees?

The row started last week when Ajmal, currently strutting his stuff for Worcestershire went through Essex picking up thirteen wickets in a game. Michael Vaughan, then tweeted photograph of Ajmal bowling during the game, which looked more similar to the action of Phil "The Power" Taylor than a traditional offie such as ex Aussie, Peter Taylor. The ex England skipper added "You are allowed 15 degrees of flex in your delivery swing.... #justsaying."

Stuart Broad then chimed in with "This has to be a fake photo?!" before following it up with, "Bowlers can bowl very differently in a lab while being tested compared to needing wickets in the middle."
Ajmal has taken it about as well as Yaya Toure when you forget his birthday card, as the comments would suggest that his action under testing procedures, is different from that in a game. Saying that the ICC do apparently match up frames from matches, to frames from their testing. However, given their handling of the match fixing scenarios, the Srini affair and various other bits and pieces, I don't personally have much faith in anything that they do.

Law 24, clause 3 states; A ball is fairly delivered in respect of the arm if, once the bowler's arm has reached the level of the shoulder in the delivery swing, the elbow joint is not straightened partially or completely from that point until the ball has left the hand. This definition shall not debar a bowler from flexing or rotating the wrist in the delivery swing.

The Power shows us his doosra

Ajmal has had a 'kink' in his arm for a long time, and it is no secret in cricket. Murali had one and I read somewhere once that all the major bowlers of the world have a bent arm to a certain degree of nine or ten degrees. Having an arm as bent as Graham Norton or Dale Winton is not the problem, providing it is not straightened and can be no more than 15 degrees, as that is when it tends to be a no ball. However, I suggest you go out in your back garden and try and bowl with a crooked arm and not straighten it to the extent where you can get something to go eighteen to twenty yards, or whatever you perceive to be a good length is. It is impossible to do without chucking it.

Senenayake is another one whose action is coming under scrutiny at present. A number of people have recently mentioned to me either personally or on Twitter that his action does not conform to standards. I am sure that the ICC have looked at it, questioned his action and it has been passed, but comments in pubs and cricket clubs across the UK suggest that others do not agree with the ICC.

It is nothing new. Tony Lock was generally perceived to chuck his quicker one, with Doug Insole once enquiring to the umpire as to whether he had been bowled or run out! Some say Willis chucked the odd effort ball, Ian Meckiff of Australia was another and Charlie Griffith was rumoured to be more Tessa Sanderson, less Jimmy Anderson.

Shabbir Ahmed was another. 51 wickets in 10 Test matches was his lot, before he got done for chucking, and I do recall certain commentators suggesting that he could extract bounce out of even the most lifeless pitch. Hmmm, no wonder. Kevon Cooper has been 'pinged' today and I would suggest that the ECB are harsher on this than maybe other cricket boards, although one county pro has confided with me that he thinks at least three bowlers past and present, who are associated with one county tend to chuck it.

Loudon...middle finger or Middleton?

The problem tends to be with the bowlers who bowl the doosra. The doosra is flicked off the middle finger and not many people have made it in the game in the UK who tend to bowl the doosra. Maurice Holmes was a promising bowler for Warwickshire, whilst Alex Loudon preferred flicking the bean of the sister of the future queen of England, to flicking his doosra as he retired to a career in the City. Both have found that their doosra caused problems and left the game. The ECB tend to be stricter than other countries with regards to implementing the standards and maybe this is where the problem lies? Maybe it is time that there was uniform testing all around the globe to stop these allegations coming forth every few years?

For the sake of cricket, let's sort it out sooner rather than later.


  1. I've long said that Ajmal throws the ball, so I'm glad I'm not alone. It does appear that the doosra is the problem ball, there doesn't seem to be anyway to bowl this delivery other than to throw it. Senanayake of what I've seen so far seems to be similar to Narine where he bowls the carrom ball which is out of the front of the hand and goes like a leg-break. Mendis of Sri Lanka is another who bowls like this too. The quicks are far from perfect Shoaib Akhtar 's quicker ball would've been more at home on the baseball diamond. It's definitely time for some system of uniform testing from the ICC.

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