Straightening out chuckers gets the vote

  • Khurram Habib, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 14, 2014 02:58 IST

India spin legend Bishan Singh Bedi, a strong critic of the rule allowing bowlers to bend their arms by 15 degrees, has fingers crossed these days.

"I would like to see what happens to Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) and Pragyan Ojha, now that umpires are reporting bowlers for throwing and action is being taken against them," he told HT on Monday.

Bedi has for long called for banning bowlers with suspect actions. He famously described Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan's wickets as 'run outs'.

In June, the ICC cricket committee, headed by Anil Kumble, noted it had not done enough to stop chucking. Since then many bowlers have been reported, none more high-profile than Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal, who is banned from bowling in international cricket.

Better late

The crackdown has left teams sweating over their spinners ahead of the World Cup. West Indies match-winner Sunil Narine was suspended from bowling in the Champions League T20. His board is worried he could be called in internationals and miss the World Cup, which starts on February 14.

"The rectification had to come from the establishment," Bedi said. "It's no doubt late, but better late than never."

Former Australia umpire, Darrell Hair, slammed timid officials for 'chuckers' flourishing. "Whatever they're doing now, they're doing 20 years too late," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "They had a chance in 1995 (the year Hair no-balled Muralitharan in a Test) to clean things up and it's taken them 19 years to finally come back and say they want chuckers out.

"I can't believe Ajmal has been able to bowl as long as he has, and they say he is bending his arm by 45 degrees or something. Well, every man and his dog would have known that."

Hair and fellow Australian umpire Ross Emerson caused an uproar in Sri Lanka after no-balling Muttiah Muralitharan in the 1990s, although he went on to finish as the leading Test wicket-taker.

Many former players, including West Indies great Clive Lloyd, now the chief selector, have questioned the timing of the crackdown. Bedi said: "Timing doesn't matter for goodness. It was ugly to watch chuckers floating around - someone throwing javelin, some shot put and others darts."

Experts believe bowlers bend their arm going for varieties like the doosra. With tracks getting flatter, they have been forced to think out of the box.

Former international umpire, SK Bansal criticised the 15-degree rule, introduced in 2004, when the ICC discouraged on-field umpires from 'calling'. "How do you judge with the naked eye that a bowler is bending his arm only 15 degrees and not 16?"

(With inputs from Reuters)

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