The throwing controversy November 12, 2004

Australian greats slam proposed rule-change

Wisden Cricinfo staff

The ICC have opened a can of worms, says Jenner © Getty Images

Several of Australian cricket's luminaries have criticised the International Cricket Council's proposed changes to the laws about what constitutes a legal delivery. An ICC sub-committee has proposed that all bowlers be allowed to straighten their arm by up to 15 degrees, and the rule-change could be ratified as early as next February, when the various national chief executives meet up in Melbourne.

Several bowlers whose actions have come in for intense scrutiny over the past few years would then be free to deliver their full repertoire, including Muttiah Muralitharan, who was asked not to bowl his doosra following the Test series against Australia last April. But the ICC's new initiative has not impressed everyone, and Terry Jenner, Shane Warne's mentor and coach, was in no mood to be conciliatory. "I just think we've just opened a huge can of worms and it's something we might pay the price for later on."

He found support from Allan Border. "I'm a bit from the old school - throwing is throwing. If you straighten your arm, it's a throw," said Border, ignoring the fact that even the likes of Glenn McGrath were found to straighten their arm when viewed with high-speed cameras.

"How does an umpire tell if it's 12 degrees, ten degrees, nine, 13, 14, whatever it is when it happens like that?" Warne, who recently surpassed Murali as Test cricket's highest wicket-taker, asked. But he was diplomatic in his assessment of the change. "If that's what they say, we, as players, have to abide with it," he said. "You've got to look at the laws and what the laws say. It's pretty hard to bowl a ball given the way the law is."

Bruce Elliott, one of the three biomechanics experts whose research was instrumental in pushing through the new proposals, denied that the panel's findings were in any way influenced by the continuing controversy over Murali. "That is wrong, and what's more [illegal throwing] is a far bigger problem than that," he said. "There was no thought by anybody that Muralitharan was the issue that was being discussed. We were looking at data from possibly 80 bowlers around the world."