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Harbhajan too a chucker, says Bedi

The legendary spinner has branded Harbhajan a chucker and blasted the ICC for ignoring what he believes is a greater blight on cricket than the match-fixing scandal.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Melbourne
UPDATED ON DEC 02, 2007 06:05 PM IST

Bishan Singh Bedi is at it again, his favourite pastime, picking bowlers with unfair bowling action. He does not spare anyone, even countryman Harbhajan Singh.

The legendary spinner has branded Harbhajan a chucker and blasted the International Cricket Council (ICC) for ignoring what he believes is a greater blight on cricket than the match-fixing scandal.

Bedi previously has been so outspoken about Muthiah Muralidharan's action that the Sri Lankan has threatened a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against him. But now Bedi has included Harbhajan on his hit-list.

"He (Harbhajan) is not any different," Bedi told The Sunday Age Saturday. "The ICC is turning a blind eye to both of them. They are blind to this monstrous problem and it is unfair and undesirable.

"It is not something to be ignored. A lot of people have questioned Harbhajan's action and they are right too. He has the same problem as Murali," the former Indian captain and coach said.

"This is cricket's greatest tragedy. Match-fixing was disgraceful but no one knew about it, so nothing could be done. Throwing is being allowed to happen in front of 30,000 and 40,000 people," said Bedi, who took 266 wickets in 67 Tests.

"Chucking is a bigger disgrace than match-fixing because it is done out in the open. It is the scourge of cricket and must be stopped.

"Harbhajan is also surviving on the 15-degree allowance. They're having a ball, these bowlers.

"And young bowlers on the subcontinent are coming through and they are copying the actions of Harbhajan and Muralidharan. These boys will be Test cricketers one day and the ICC is going to have a hell of a problem," he said.

Harbhajan will arrive in Australia this month as the spearhead of Indians' slow bowling attack that includes skipper Anil Kumble and Murali Kartik.

Harbhajan has been spared much of the scathing criticism directed at Muralidharan partly because he's less successful, but 241 wickets from 58 Tests is still a formidable record. His action is not as blatant as Muralidharan's but it would struggle to be legal without the 15-degree law.

Muralidharan, Pakistan strike bowler Shoaib Akhtar and Harbhajan all have come under scrutiny since the 15-degree threshold was introduced in 2005.

Until then, spinners were permitted to straighten their arms by only five degrees, medium pacers 7.5 degrees and fast bowlers 10 degrees.

Australian speedster Brett Lee has aroused fleeting suspicions of throwing in the past but Bedi said Lee is in the clear.

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