Bird shot down for illegal action
Aaron Bird, the New South Wales fast bowler, has been suspended for an illegal bowling action following tests at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. Bird, the leading wicket-taker in the Twenty20 competition, was reported three times by umpires during the season and his ban of at least three months started with Cricket Australia's ruling on Wednesday.
He was named for New South Wales' crucial Sheffield Shield match against Queensland on Thursday, but has been replaced by Mitchell Starc, the left-arm fast bowler. Bird was tested on February 11 in the AIS biomechanics laboratory and not all of his deliveries were within the 15-degree range of allowable elbow extension.
Bird was confident the suspension would be a "temporary setback". "Although I am obviously disappointed with the result, the findings of the analysis showed that all but one of my deliveries complied with the elbow extension allowed," Bird said. "I will now go away with the coaching staff and analyse the test findings and make any adjustments required to make sure that I am ready to go in 90 days' time."
A Cricket Australia spokesman said Bird could challenge the results through a bowling review group hearing. "Any player found to have displayed an illegal action is suspended from interstate competitions until he is able to complete a biomechanical analysis that demonstrates his action is legal," the spokesman said. That can occur "no earlier than 90 days after the date a suspension commences".
Bird, who had to change his action following similar concerns in 2006-07, collected 13 Twenty20 wickets at 14.07 and was third on the FR Cup list with 21 at 22.19. He was reported last month but was allowed to continue playing until the results were released, and dismissed three batsmen in the Blues' innings defeat to Victoria last week.
David Gilbert, the Cricket New South Wales chief executive, said the state would support Bird in his remedial work. "Aaron is an important member of our squad and we will provide all the assistance needed to help him over the 90-day period," he said.