It was always considered a problem, but no one really realised how deep the rot ran.
But now we know that the Indian cricket board (BCCI) should be seriously worried: An unprecedented 130 bowlers across inter-state under-19 and under-22 games, and the Ranji Trophy, have officially been hauled up for illegal bowling actions last season alone, according to the BCCI.
<b1>The staggering number means that every state has about five bowlers who ‘chuck’ (and have been caught chucking) across different age groups. It also lays bare the challenge the menace poses to India’s bowling resources, especially to spin bowling, an increasingly precious commodity in India.
“There’s no question that spinners, off-spinners, left-arm spinners, constitute the majority of bowlers with
suspect action,” said former India paceman Javagal Srinath.
“While increased scrutiny on the BCCI’s part has resulted in lots more bowlers with illegal actions being found out and called for remedial measures, the frustrating part is that players come to the National Cricket Academy, get their arms straightened and then often slip back to the old ways once they go back into the system,” said Srinath.
Srinath, also an International Cricket Council match referee, is one of the three-member committee - the other two members being S Venkataraghavan and AV Jayaprakash - the BCCI set up three years ago to handle the problem of chucking.
Much of the spurt in the number of suspects has to do with the BCCI’s zero tolerance policy. The Board directed umpires and match referees to go hard on chucking last season. “All of us were told to be very strict with it and we had no option but to report anything suspicious,” said an umpire who reported close to 10 bowlers over the season.
While the number is cause for serious concern, what’s comforting is the Board’s approach to try and affect a cure. Apart from calling in the suspects to zonal remedial camps around the country, the BCCI is also bringing in the player’s state coach. And it’s gone down well with some coaches.
“It makes sense as the player spends much of his time with his coach,” said Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya. “A camp lasts just three to four days, and bowlers normally get their action right there as there’s not much pressure while bowling in the nets. So if the coach is there, he could keep a tab on the bowler’s progress.”