It’s never too late to take the right decision. While earlier, cricketers got away easily with suspected bowling actions and sledging on the field, now it is going to be tough for the players to display such actions. Cricket’s global governing body, International Cricket Council (ICC) vindicated that the bowlers with illegal actions will have to face tough consequences. The ICC will only allow unconventional delivery such as doosra under certain rules to get over with the problem of illegal bowling deliveries. Ahead of the World Cup which starts in New Zealand and Australia on February 14, the ICC is all prepared.
In the previous four months the ICC, in its operation to terminate such illegal actions, also suspended bowlers such as Sri Lanka’s Sachithra Senanayake, Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal, Bangladesh’s Sohag Gazi and Zimbabwe’s Prosper Utseya. Also, Bangladesh’s medium-pace bowler Al-Amin Hossain alongwith New Zealands’s part-time bowler Kane Williamsom were suspended due to unorthodox bowling actions.
Rules must be followed
Complying with the ICC rules and regulations, the bowlers are allowed to straighten their bowling arm up to 15 degrees. Straightening at this angle will become detectable to eyes. David Richardson, ICC chief executive has made it clear that the rules must be followed acutely. As per rules the bowler has to bowl and not throw the ball and this rule should be adhered to strictly. The statement came to light when talked about Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal. Richardson spoke about doosra, a divisive as well as controversial bowling which is different from a normal off-spin delivery. The rules will not be relaxed upon anyone if a genuine game of cricket has to be observed. According to Richardson there are legal and justifiable ways of playing cricket and bowling. So even though we may allow the doosra, it has to be under a certain rule.
As the ICC has been on its front foot vowing to stop illegal actions and make cricket free from controversies, the last four months have seen many players being penalized. Saeed Ajmal was one! Was he targeted? According to Richardson, whatever is being done is for the betterment of cricket and no particular players are being under attack.
We all have to agree that cricket has been encircled by controversies particularly when it comes to bowling actions, sledging, match fixing et al. To make cricket a clean game, it’s necessary to formulate laws and act upon them. Under such laws, bowlers from all around including New Zealand, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have been acted upon. No particular player has been under the hammer. If such illegal bowling actions occur from bowler of any country, action should be taken.
Co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, the World Cup is to be held in February-March this year. Speculations were that the ICC wants to clean-up all contradictory actions encircling the game and provide spectators with a grand and uncontaminated game. However, Richardson denied that the crackdown is only because of the upcoming World Cup. He said that the ICC detected what’s incorrect and decided to act upon it as soon as possible.
The finest World Cup
To wait for the World Cup didn’t seem reasonable. The problem of bowlers with suspected actions were evident and it was the right time to deploy the rules of the game. However, the best will be done to witness the finest World Cup.
The ICC has shown fine improvement in identifying bowlers with suspected actions. Suspension of players until they work upon their actions will help them come back with a new and improved bowling action.
The upcoming World Cup will see a couple of bowlers with a new and improved version of their bowling action. The laws or matches will be no different for these bowlers. It might be a challenge for them to maintain that action but it will be good for the game. And if they are found to be bowling with suspected actions, they will be reported immediately. Off spinners are mostly at the risk of being called by umpires for throwing as they have a front approach and the elbow comes in front of the wrist when they release the ball, particularly when bowling doosra.
Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal, after he was suspended travelled to Chennai where his new bowling action was tested again. The off-spinner is looking forward to a return to international cricket. Besides Ajmal, if any other bowler is reported in the World Cup for illegal or suspected bowling, they will undergo a test. The Brisbane Testing Centre will do the job and decide if the bowlers’ actions are legal or illegal. If they found it to be illegal, the player will be suspended immediately.
The ICC is all prepared when it comes to suspected bowling actions. But there are other issues such as corruption, sledging and match-fixing that have plagued cricket. Such coercion has brought down the reputation of the game. But now ICC is ready for any kind of threat and is determined to free the game from such menace. Richardson says that the Anti-Corruption personnel are on their toes to tackle any issue as they have signed many contracts and agreements with the local police as well as associations in New Zealand and Australia.
No doubt, match-fixing has brought a bad name to the sport and has to be dealt with carefully. Richardson asserts that the concerned bodies have been doing their job very well and it will be almost impossible for the match-fixers to do any harm to the image of the game. It will be impossible to corrupt the players, umpires or any official concerned with the World Cup. Match-fixing is going to be far away from this World Cup, he articulates.
More sledging cases when it comes to cricket have been heard recently. Misbehavior by players on field is miserable and puts a bad reflection on the sportsman spirit as well as on the game. The ICC has recognized the problem and is determined to take an action against such behavior on field. If the players engage in bad behavior against each other, strong action will be taken by the officials and the body. The quarrel between India’s Rohit Sharma and Australia’s David Warner in an ODI resulted in the Australian being fined. There were many such instances where spats came up between players. To tackle this issue of sledging, laws have been proposed to the umpires and match referees.
Recently, Sri Lanka’s fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara was reprimanded by ICC for misbehavior during the One-Day ineternational match against New Zealand held in Wellington. After dismissal of New Zealand’s batsman Luke Ronchi, Kulasekara showed unacceptable behavior by changing his way towards the other player. Kulasekara however accepted his offence.
The World Cup is all set to stage the teams and its players on February 14. The ICC recent crackdown regarding bowlers might be a cause of trouble for some teams with their bowlers under inspection. Some teams from different nations have even taken a chance by naming their bowlers who have been called for suspected bowling actions. For the quadrennial event, all 14 countries named their final 15 players for the World Cup to be held between February 14 and March 29.
Out of the 14 countries, five have taken a chance by naming six bowlers involved in chucking/throwing system in domestic and international cricket. Bangladesh’s Al-Amin Hossain , West Indies Sunil Narine, Zimbabwe’s Prosper Utseya, Sri Lanka’s Sachithra Senanayak, Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson are the names of six bowlers who have been recently called for throwing and yet found place in their respective teams.
Some players might even miss the World Cup due to being under the scanner. Absence of Pakistani Ajmal Saeed might be a big blow for the team. While, New Zealand player Williamson’s name has been cleared for bowling, Sri Lankan offspinner Senanayake and Bangladesh’s pacer Al-amin too have their names cleared by the ICC. Hafeez will have a test before the world Cup begins. West Indies too have taken a big chance by naming Sunil Narine. The spinner was called during the champions League Twenty20 for his bowling actions and later on his team didn’t allow him to play in the series against India as they feared a bowling ban. However, the West Indies Cricket Board feels that the spinner has corrected his suspected bowling actions. Zimbabwe’s Prosper Utseya’s chances are a bit complicated as the off-spinner will only be allowed to do seam-up bowling.
Tom Wills most controversial bowler
Now that stringent rules have been formulated to keep a check on illegal bowling actions, the bowlers are having a hard time. But throwing and being called by umpires is not new to cricket. Dating back to the 19th century Australia’s Tom Wills was considered the most controversial bowler accused of throwing. It was in 1872 that he was called in a match against Australia followed by an end to his career. Early 1880 saw numerous bowlers with suspected actions. In 1887, umpire Jim Phillips called Bowler Ernest Jones for throwing during the Melbourne Test match. He also ended C.B Fry’s bowling job. Phillips also called Arthur Mold, England fast bowler, in 1900 and 1901 and ended his career.
Australia’s fast bowler Eddie Gilbert was an excellent fast bowler and took wickets at a phenomenal rate in the late 1920s. Gilbert’s most celebrated delivery was against Don Bradman in 1931. After one month from that, Gilbert was constantly called for throwing. The 1950s too saw reported issues of being called for throwing. Coming to other recent times bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar, Shabbir ahmed, Brett Lee and James Kirtley have been under the scanner quite a few times. Also, spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan was scrutinized for his illegal bowling action. After repeated criticism, the 1995 Boxing Day Test in Melbourne saw umpire Darrell Hair calling Muralitharan for throwing.
While there are players who have been suspended, called and sent for training, there are others like Harbhajan Singh who have been reported quite a few times but not approved.