November 23, 2009

Ranji Trophy, 2009-10

Suspect action, suspect reaction

Aakash Chopra
Himachal Pradesh offspinner Sarandeep Singh bowls, Himachal Pradesh v Goa, Ranji Plate League, 2nd day, Dharamsala, December 13, 2008
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Dear readers,

In the course of the current domestic season, the BCCI has decided to play cop to “illegal bowling actions”. Last year the board had begun a campaign through which six cameras around the ground monitored the standard of umpiring and the conduct of the game. Logically the same data was also used to take a closer look at bowling actions of bowlers with suspect actions. Towards the end of last season, the BCCI had issued a list of over 40 such bowlers. Apparently all were summoned to Bangalore by the National Cricket Academy for corrective measures.

This year, though, the board went a step ahead and empowered umpires to no-ball bowlers they thought chucked. The board has also directed umpires officiating in various age-group tournaments to follow the same protocol to stem the rot right at the beginning. In the first couple of rounds of this Ranji season, there have been quite a few instances of an umpire warning the bowler by no-balling him. A bowler can only be warned thrice before he is stopped from bowling. Thereafter he has got to go to the NCA to rectify or clear his action.

Straight off the BCCI's move to clean up the system has to be lauded. After all chucking gives that bowler an advantage over others who bowl with a clean action. But I'm not sure if anyone has put any thought into the repercussions of this process. Personally I definitely think it's going to end a few careers.

A spinner usually chucks while bowling a faster one or a doosra, which can easily be avoided or corrected. But if a fast bowler has a suspect action, it’s extremely difficult to rectify it while keeping the same pace and remaining as effective. A few states have already dropped players with suspect actions, and if they don’t get it right soon they will be history.

Now the question that needs to be addressed is, what happens to bowlers who are unable to rectify their actions. Where do they go? Most players have cricket as their only source of income, and if that’s taken away the consequences are devastating. For instance, once identified as chuckers they might not be allowed to play for their employers.

These guys have been playing serious cricket from the age of 13-14 and were encouraged to bowl the way they have been bowling. So the system is as much to blame. Given all this, it might be a good idea to have a scheme to rehabilitate the players who have faithfully served their states for quite a few years. The onus is on state associations, all of who have developmental funds, to stand by them and find or create opportunities that will allow them to continue their making a living from cricket, at least for a reasonable period of time.

I hope they do.

Bye for now

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by Kool Kat on (November 26, 2009, 11:57 GMT)

Aakash : Nice article. And good to note that BCCI is coming down hard on this. But both, the players and state adminstrators are to blame. However, ignorance of the law is no defence. Its like giving amnesty to income tax dodgers because that's the only thing they knew. In this day of electronic media, everyone knows the consequence of chucking.

Posted by Anonymous on (November 25, 2009, 18:10 GMT)

HAI AKASH.. I HV BEEN READING UR ARTICLES REGULARLY & ITS REALLY INTERESTING TO SEE THINGS FROM A PLAYER'S PERSPECTIVE.. Gud job sir & keep it up.. I hv one doubt which i think many more people who follow d game might also have.. On what basis is d annual retainership for a player decided by the BCCI..? Its really baffling to see some of d names in that list.. Do they decide only based on performances or on some petty politics..? Why there is no transparency in any of d matters associated with d BCCI..? Any how, ALL D BEST YAAR..

Posted by PRASANNA on (November 25, 2009, 18:08 GMT)

HAI AKASH.. I HV BEEN READING UR ARTICLES REGULARLY & ITS REALLY INTERESTING TO SEE THINGS FROM A PLAYER'S PERSPECTIVE.. Gud job sir & keep it up.. I hv one doubt which i think many more people who follow d game might also have.. On what basis is d annual retainership for a player decided by the BCCI..? Its really baffling to see some of d names in that list.. Do they decide only based on performances or on some petty politics..? Why there is no transparency in any of d matters associated with d BCCI..? Any how, ALL D BEST YAAR..

Posted by Kiran on (November 25, 2009, 12:25 GMT)

A commendable move by the BCCI. Bowlers who can't rectify their actions have no place in the system, and the cricket associations don't owe them any welfare. If you can't play by the rules, find a different profession.

Posted by R Narayan on (November 25, 2009, 11:23 GMT)

How unfair can you get. It certainly is a batsman's game. Flat wickets, short boundaries, fancy bats, flat wickets.... now they can't even chuck! But seriously, if they can't remedy their action, they will just have to find something else to do. Well done, BCCI.

Posted by Gaurav on (November 25, 2009, 10:06 GMT)

Aakash, you make a good point, but, as some here have said, the batsmen who happen to be at the wrong end of such doubtful actions, may also stand up and cry injustice. After all, their careers can also get affected, thanks to an illegal action! So, maybe the need of the hour is to get the message across, not just to the players but even to the coaches/trainers around the country, that they better be careful in regards to this problem as their negligence can affect a players career and their name as well! BCCI, in my opinion has taken set the ball rolling and now its for the affected parties to clean up their act.

Posted by Renjith on (November 25, 2009, 6:48 GMT)

This is one of the best steps taken by BCCI in recent times. They are also giving adequate support for the called ones to rectify their actions. If they still can't rectify, nobody can help. Doesn't whether they are called after playing for one session or 10 sessions.

Posted by gowri dev on (November 24, 2009, 19:15 GMT)

Hi aakash, I don't think umpire as good judge to call baller as chucker as umpire has see if bowler is bowling no ball or not at same time how can he judge the action of a bowler. I think both umpires in a match should see action of bowler behind wickets before calling him as chucker. I also agree that they should been give a chance to correct their action. I want to learn straight drive and cover drive. can you tell me any easy way. I mean how practice these kind of shots.

Posted by Moin on (November 24, 2009, 17:49 GMT)

Nice article Aakash...

Posted by Jontyfan on (November 24, 2009, 16:58 GMT)

Its about time chuckers were chucked out of the game. Its pretty obvious to see if a bowler has a clean action or not and the umpires need to keep the cheats out of the game. Too bad Murali and Shoaib have been allowed to play all these years.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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