PCB's report on Shoaib Akhtar's action
This is further to our initial assessment and recommendation of bio-mechanical evaluation of Shoaib Akhtar's bowling arm. It is heartening to note that the entire process was carried out expeditiously and Shoaib was sent to Perth for a complete examination of his bowling action.
So far, the events regarding this case have unfolded as follows:
28th Feb Shoaib Akhtar reported in the 5th ODI against New Zealand at Dunedin by Umpires D.B Cowie and Steve Dunne.
28th Feb ICC informs PCB.
3rd Mar PCB notifies it's Group of Bowling Advisors and requests for convening of their meeting.
Mar 3-15 No action could be taken, nor meeting could be convened as video tapes were not received from ICC.
Mar 16 Video tapes received. PCB asks ICC to start the 6 weeks limit of Stage 1 from 16th March and not from the date of reporting i.e
28th Feb. (ICC did not agree. However on account of the time required for Shoaib's complete evaluation, the delay in our report was in the offing).
Mar 19 Meeting of PCB Group of Bowling Advisors convened with Shoaib also in attendance for questioning. Together, video tape received from ICC is reviewed. Tapes are not upto the standard the Committee would have liked. It does not have 3 different angles, or slow-motion or frame-by- frame filming. On physical examination of Shoaib's arm, the Committee found an unusual curve. The same is conveyed to PCB, with the recommendation that bio mechanical analysis of Shoaib's bowling arm action be carried out.
Mar 19 Shoaib leaves for Perth late in the night for bio-mechanical 3-D analysis at the University of Western Australia. (Anticipatory logistic arrangements had been made earlier to save on time and keep the expected delay in our response to the minimum).
April 12 Final Bowling Assessment of Shoaib takes place in Perth. April 19 Shoaib Akhtar returns home.
April 23 Fax copy of Final Bowling Report on Shoaib Akhtar is received from the University of Western Australia.
April 26 Meeting of PCB's Group of Bowling Advisors is convened to consider the Report, prior to receipt of hard copy, so as to expedite our response to the ICC.
April 27 Hard copy of Final Bowling Report received.
The outcome of the meeting follows:
In the absence of one member of our group, Mr. Iqbal Sikander (Leg Break Bowler's category), who has proceeded to U.K, the other two members of the PCB Group of Bowling Advisors comprising Ijaz Fakih (Off Break Bowler) and Mohsin Kamal (Fast Bowler) met at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore on 26th April 2001. Mr. Iqbal Sikander was nevertheless consulted on telephone and the report was discussed with him in detail. Shoaib Akhtar was also called for discussion. The Final Bowling Report, in original, is attached with this document. The Report is prepared by:
1. Professor Bruce Elliott
2. Dr. David Lloyd
3. Ms. Jacque Alderson
4. Mr. Daryl Foster
They are from the Department of Human Movement and Exercise Science at the University of Western Australia. We understand that they have previously worked on Muralitharan who underwent similar tests before being cleared by ICC. After an initial 3-D analysis on 22nd March, Shoaib went through a 3 week coaching period. The final 3-D analysis took place on 12th April using 4 high speed video cameras. Former fast bowler Dennis Lillee also remained attached with Shoaib during this program and had some valuable technical advice to offer to Shoaib with a view to preventing any future injuries and to increase his longevity in the game.
We find the Report to be very well prepared. It takes into account all technical aspects without which our final opinion would have remained incomplete.
In the light of this Report we have absolutely no doubt that our initial thoughts about the abnormality of Shoaib's bowling arm were true. His action does look suspect to the normal eye, but the real cause is something beyond Shoaib's control and certainly not a deliberate attempt by him to gain some advantage.
The Report proves that Shoaib has a carry angle (arm out of alignment) of 22° and a hyperextension value of 18°. This causes abnormal forced extension of his joints beyond their normal range of motion. As such while bowling express deliveries, their is an illusion of a flexed elbow joint, that causes concern to the Umpires while viewing the action with a naked eye. However, the Report also proves that his "unique physical characteristics pertaining to the high flexibility of his shoulder and elbow joints, will still be present whatever technique he uses" (page 6).
A fact mentioned in the Report is that the "increase in hyperextension is certainly against the letter of the law but not against the spirit of the law. Mr. Akhtar has no control over the additional extension as it is a physical characteristic of his arm" (page 9). The Report goes on to state that, "the flexion at the elbow that occurs leading to ball release is not against the letter or the spirit of the law" (page 9).
Whereas we do understand, that the umpires called him based upon what they saw with the naked eye, yet with the aid of available super technology, it is clear that the spirit of the law is not broken. Neither does he throw nor does he take unfair advantage of his peculiar physiology. Infact he may be losing a few yards of pace as hypermobility "can be very detrimental to technique" (page 10).
In summary, the Report finds that Shoaib "is unable to avoid the hypermobility in his bowling action " (page 10) and "therefore should NOT be regarded as throwing due to his abnormal anatomical characteristics" (page 10). Despite the fact that "abnormalities in his bowling limb give the impression of a semi-throwing motion when viewed from a single location " (page 10) and that "the additional extension recorded following the arm attaining the horizontal position is a manifestation of his hypermobile elbow joint" (page 10) the Report finally declares that "Mr. Akhtar does not throw" (page 10).
Muralitharan was also called as a result of what the eye could see. He was too, cleared with the help of technology, stating that his action, though against the letter of the law, was entirely on account of his physical characteristics over which he had no control, and that he was not trying to gain an unfair advantage.
Shoaib's case is similar to that extent, though we understand that the nature of the characteristics of his bowling arm is different to that of Muralitharan's. Who can deny that Murali's continuance on the scene has added to the excitement of international cricket. A bowler as unique as him has enriched the game. So has Shoaib.
Eversince he has come upon the stage, he has certainly caught the imagination of the spectators world-wide. To deny him the privilege of great bowling on account of reasons beyond his control, within the spirit of the law, would be depriving the world of true cricketing pleasure. It is therefore strongly recommended that Shoaib be left free to practice his art for the good of all. But this cannot be done without the understanding of the Umpires and the Referees. They have to understand that what they see with the naked eye may not be the real thing.
Technology has told us what the true story is. Hence they must view Shoaib as they do Murali all over the world. For the education of all we are sending the Report to you alongwith this document and seek your help in giving it wide circulation amongst the adjudicators of the game, so that Shoaib does not suffer for their lack of knowledge of the bio mechanics of his action.
They have to grant him his unique ability. In the light of our observation and discussions that are most ably endorsed by the Final Bowling Report, we have no hesitation in declaring that Mr. Shoaib Akhtar's action is not illegal.