In the course of the current domestic season, the BCCI has decided to play cop to what is called an illegal bowling action. Last year, the Board had begun a campaign through which six cameras monitored the standard of umpiring and the conduct of games.
Logically, the same data was also used to take a closer look at bowlers with a suspect action. Towards the end of the last season, the BCCI had issued a list of over 40 such “guilty” bowlers. Apparently, all were summoned to Bangalore by the National Cricket Academy for corrective measures.
This year though, the Board has gone a step ahead and empowered the umpires to no ball bowlers they think chuck. The Board has also directed umpires officiating in various age-group tournaments to follow the same protocol to stem the rot at the beginning.
In the first couple of rounds of this season, there have been quite a few instances of an umpire warning a bowler by no-balling him. A bowler can be warned thrice before he is stopped from bowling. Thereafter, he has to go to the NCA to rectify/clear his action.
Straight off, the BCCI’s move to clean up the system has to be lauded. After all, chucking gives the bowler an advantage over those who bowl with a clean action. But I’m not sure if anyone’s put any thought on the repercussions of the process.
Personally, I think it’s going to end a few careers.
A spinner (in most cases) chucks while bowling a faster one or a doosra, which can easily be avoided or corrected. But if a fast bowler has a suspect action, it’s extremely difficult to rectify it while keeping the same pace and remaining as effective.
A few states have already dropped players with suspect actions and if they don’t get it right soon, they will be history.
The question that needs to be addressed is what happens to bowlers who are unable to rectify their action. Where do they go?
Most players have cricket as their only source of income and if that’s taken away, the consequences are devastating. For instance, once identified as chuckers they might not be allowed to play for their employers.
These players have been playing serious cricket from the age of 13-14 and were encouraged to bowl the way they have been — so much so that they found themselves representing their states at the highest level. So, the system is as much to blame.
Given all this, it might be a good idea to have a scheme to rehabilitate the players who have faithfully served their states for quite a few years.
The onus is on the state associations, all of them have developmental funds, to stand by them and find/create opportunities that will allow them to continue make a living from cricket for a reasonable period of time.