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Integrity at stake over doosra - Inverarity

Daniel Brettig

October 26, 2012

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Graeme Swann celebrates after taking a wicket, Sri Lanka v England, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Pallekele, October 1, 2012
John Inverarity highlighted Graeme Swann as a conventional spinner who has had plenty of success in recent years © AFP
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Nothing less than Australian cricket's integrity is at stake over the question of whether or not young spin bowlers should be taught to deliver the doosra, the national selector John Inverarity believes.

As a burgeoning flock of overseas spinners capitalise on the ICC's rules allowing 15 degrees of flex and thus the kind of flicked delivery required to bowl the offspinner's "other one", Inverarity said Cricket Australia needed to stay true to its previously stated view that the doosra would not become part of the spin coaching lexicon down under.

This trenchant position does not reflect a growing attitude among Australian players, particularly those who took part in this year's World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, that the textbook approach to spin bowling is less effective, particularly in the shorter formats on the subcontinent. The T20 captain George Bailey said as much on his return from the tournament, but Inverarity disagreed.

"The question is being asked now about 'do we develop the doosra bowlers or not'. That's a question of integrity for Cricket Australia. I don't think we do," Inverarity told an Australian Cricket Society lunch in Melbourne. "I just think it's a serious issue, and I think we've got to keep our integrity and teach our bowlers to bowl properly."

At a 2009 spin summit at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, slow bowling coaches including the late Terry Jenner and Ashley Mallett were unanimous that the doosra should not be taught because they felt it cannot be delivered legally. Inverarity said he was happy for the doosra to be bowled legally, but said its future exponents in Australia needed to be tested to ensure they fell within the 15 degrees now legislated.

"I'm all for them learning it, but it's got to be within the rules. I think the integrity of the game, the integrity of our Australian cricket heritage is important," he said. "We've had some wonderful bowlers with different grips, Max Walker bowling how he did, Jeff Thomson how he did, Jack Iverson, Johnny Gleeson. I'm all for that, but we'll always run a measure over them to make sure they're bowling legitimately. I'd love to see someone bowling differently, but we'd scrutinise them to make sure they're bowling properly."

 
 
"I'm all for them learning it (the doosra), but it's got to be within the rules. I think the integrity of the game, the integrity of our Australian cricket heritage is important"
 

The question of whether a bowler's action is legitimate or not when delivering the doosra was far from the front of Bailey's mind on his return home from Sri Lanka. He was quick to suggest the encouragement of unorthodox spin bowlers was a way for Australia to improve on its semi-final appearance at the World T20.

"As a nation we still talk about whether guys have legitimate actions or not and at the end of the day that's really not for us to be arguing about," Bailey said. "If that's the rules and that's how bowlers are bowling now and having success in international cricket then we've got to start developing those players and developing them at 10-11 years of age and we start to have some bowlers who do bowl like [Muttiah] Muralitharan or [Saeed] Ajmal or [Sunil] Narine.

"You're hoping that a few of our spinners were watching the tournament [World T20] and seeing the type of spinners that were having success. I think the way our coaching system is set up it's going to be tough for some spinners to get through because the way a lot of the spinners who have had success bowl in the subcontinent, you're probably not going to be playing much cricket in Australia if you bowl like that. There's a balancing act there."

How long Australia can continue to be puritanical about the development of spin bowlers is a matter for debate, particularly as CA's quest to diversify the game should encourage the emergence of a greater bevy of slow bowlers of Asian or subcontinental backgrounds.

For now, Inverarity is convinced that the orthodox path is best, holding up the example of Graeme Swann, much as Shane Warne did earlier this week.

"Swann does very well, Ashley Mallett was a terrific bowler, Bruce Yardley was a terrific bowler, Tim May was a terrific bowler, and there were never any doubts about them," he said. "They didn't bowl doosras."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Rohan_K on (October 29, 2012, 8:52 GMT)

If Micheal Clarke can nick a ball to first slip and stand there for the umpire to give him out, isn't that a breach of so called Integrity where he knows he is out but wants to wait until the umpire gives him. Similarly if a bowler feels he has bent the arm more the 15 degrees( cannot measure in a match) should he go to the umpire and admit it and ask for a no-ball. Its something Aussies cant have post Macgill - A good spinner...This is why the fuss.

Posted by Dhumper on (October 29, 2012, 0:29 GMT)

Mate you have a choice. You can teach your bowlers on the art of doosra now or live without this amazing delivery. Eventually you will end up teaching them one way or the other. Long live Saqlain the inventor..and now Ajmal the Jadoogar.

Posted by Vikum72 on (October 28, 2012, 23:25 GMT)

@mixters on (October 28 2012, 10:16 AM GMT): the 15 degree tolerance was established, not to accommodate spin bowling or one type of delivery as you seem to suggest, but it was scientifically proven that this is the limit that anyone could flex without being detected by the human eye. And it is a misconception that only spinners or doosra bowlers flex close to 15 degrees, even fast bowlers or medium phase bowlers who people think have flawless action could also come close to this.

Posted by jay57870 on (October 28, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

Just as the word "doosra" suggests, John Inverarity is talking out of both sides of his mouth! Especially the wrong side, the "other one"! Nothing illegal though about double-speak. Politicians do it all the time. Except that it sounds so phony with his "integrity at stake" sermon. Or maybe John's confused. Perhaps he's flash-backing to fellow Aussie Greg Chappell's "underarm" bowling episode in 1981. That's when captain Greg ordered brother Trevor to deliver the last ball underarm to prevent NZ from scoring a 6 to tie the ODI match. Yes, the "gutter ball" slid swimmingly - to borrow a "doosra" phrase from the (other) bowling alleys - and Oz won! The action was legal at the time, notwithstanding the "most disgraceful" controversy it created. Soon after it was banned in limited overs cricket by ICC for being "not within the spirit" of the game. So maybe John's wistfully wishing the now legal "doosra" will be banished for good by re-igniting the "integrity" controversy! Nice try, John!

Posted by   on (October 28, 2012, 10:31 GMT)

Well unorthodoxy has paved the way for many exciting inventions in the sporting history.One woman bowled an overarm bowl because of her long skirt gave rise to the standard cricket delivery.No one questioned her intergrity. Rugby was invented because during a football match no one could kick the ball due to poor weather conditions.No one questioned their integrity either.Why this question of integrity when something come up from the sub continent. Give it time. In twenty years time it will be in coach manuals and will be a must skill to be developed in competitive cricket. Don't waste time arguing about this as everyone has the freedom to follow what they want and believe.

Posted by mixters on (October 28, 2012, 10:23 GMT)

@screamingeagle Dan Cullen who played some ODIs for Australia had a doosera but in the post Warne era the pitches in Australia dont turn so much anymore like the ones in Asia. So he became inefective like most fingerspinners bowling in Australia even the good ones. He cant even get a game for his local team these days so being able to bowl the doosra is great only on a pitch that takes turn it would seem!

Posted by mixters on (October 28, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

Over the years the Lords of cricket have changed many rules, the question I ask myself is have they been for a specific tactic like the old leg theroy or the bouncer rule. In the past they have all been to improve the game. Was the 15 degree rule change for the good of all of cricket? I honenstly cant make up my mind if it will or has made the game better. I love great spin bowling I love great fast bowling I love Great swing bowling. This rule change only seems to benefit one type of bowling. I would like to here other opinions on this Gentelmen?

Posted by screamingeagle on (October 28, 2012, 9:56 GMT)

What would we do if we did not have such men of integrity in Aussie cricket? I hope some Aussie will bowl a doosra and then we get an amended definition of integrity.

Posted by Meety on (October 28, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

@ mixters on (October 28 2012, 04:15 AM GMT) - good comment. The good news is, within a few years (already available & potentially trialled) is some technology that will enable on-field analysis. I would imagine it would lead to players with suspect actions being required to wear the probes during a game. The technology I am led to believe is less obtrusive than strapping. @Lalanka de Silva - just bear in mind also said he needed to be scrutinised & when I first saw his technique I thought there was no way it was legal. I'll abide by the ICCs ruling. Murali the man is a champion.

Posted by Vikum72 on (October 28, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

@Vijay Srinivasan: Mate all bowlers flex. How many do you think bowl without flexing? ABSOLUTE ZERO!!! So with a zero tolerance, there won't be anyone to 'bowl' in cricket. Without 15 degree policy not many will be left. Yes we are fooling ourselves if we are thinking about bowlers without flexing.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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