Bowling actions May 26, 2011

Ire in Babylon

Where was once there was fire, now there is ire. West Indian fast bowlers are making a healthy business out of whispering into television and radio microphones
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First there was fire, when West Indian pacemen torched the world's best batsmen, breaking bones and turning stiff spines to jelly. Those fearsome fast bowlers didn't talk much--they didn't need to--pace, swing, bounce, and a wickedly intimidating line and length sufficed. There was no talk, only walk. Michael Holding was the prince amongst those athletes, Whispering Death they called him, in homage to the effortless grace of his sprinter's run and deathly lightning bolts.

Where was once there was fire, now there is ire. West Indian fast bowlers are making a healthy business out of whispering into television and radio microphones; Holding, Ian Bishop, and Colin Croft the most prominent voices, and good luck to them, it's a reward they richly deserve. But there is something quite disheartening about hearing Mr Whispering Death whispering bitterly.

When ICC changed the bowling law to allow for the scientifically proven variation in flexibility of human joints, it was a sensible end-product of detailed biomechanical analysis of a wide variety of bowling actions in nets and in match conditions. All bowlers were flexing their elbows. High performance cameras were picking up joint movement that was previously undetectable by the naked eye, and fifteen degrees was established as the level at which the naked eye could detect a throw. Of course, a simple cut off wasn't enough because the shoulder and elbow joints move through various planes during a delivery and what seems like a throw with the naked eye isn't always one after biomechanical analysis.

Holding, who was part of the ICC bowling review committee that set the fifteen degree rule, remains confused about the change in the law. You might argue that a complex law is bad for the game, and it should be easily interpretable by all cricketers. But that would be missing the point. The change in the law was an attempt at fairness and a cut-off did make it simpler. By creating well defined criteria for ruling on the legality of bowling actions, even though technical expertise is required to pontificate definitively, the ICC lessened any suspicion that certain umpires were making prejudiced calls against particular countries. Agreement on consistent and replicable criteria also ensured that bowlers would not be deprived of their livelihood by arbitrary decision making.

These are points lost in the mists of time. They are certainly lost on Holding, whose assault on Saeed Ajmal was an act unbecoming of a man of his repute. When Holding urged his commentary colleagues to judge Ajmal's action from a front-on angle, with the use of a clumsy protractor graphic, he belittled a fellow professional whose action was cleared by ICC in 2009, but he did a grander job of belittling himself and the status of ex-cricketers as commentators.

No bowler is 'cleared' forever, and any suspicion of Ajmal's current action is the umpires' responsibility to report. It certainly isn't the business of Holding to launch an attack live on air. When Holding implied that Ajmal's long sleeve shirt served to obscure his bent arm, he was casting suspicion on the character of a fellow professional. In that moment, there was shame for Holding and the television producers who allowed such zealous attacks throughout the series.

The real story at the end of the second Test should have been the dismal failure of Holding's countrymen to play any kind of spin bowling, crumbling to a sorry defeat. West Indies were once a great side, the best I have ever seen. A team I loved like my own. Their results and performances spoke for themselves. Defeat was rare and quickly avenged with a fiery comeback. But, as Whispering Death whispered his ill-judged words to a global audience, this ire in Babylon was a sorry whimper that spoke volumes about the collapse of a mighty cricketing power and diminished the image of a bowler that the world had loved in his pomp.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rohili on November 10, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    Stuart Clark is a great cricketer and we are all the poroer for not seeing him play. He was starting to do a good job leading the Blues.I still hope he will play for Australia again and show the selectors what a good consistent team player he is. He is a real gentleman and a great husband and father.Hope we will still see lots more of him in the future and his back will be OK soon.

  • Jabeer on June 19, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    well said sir......... infact it is not about saying honestly or dis honestly..... it is about his job..... this is not mr. holding's duty to say such things....... or decide for it...

  • Nustian on June 5, 2011, 18:13 GMT

    what was ramiz raja doing out during this time of period????? he should response on foolish comments like these and one during WC 2011 by Graig Chapel about Afridi.. if commentators will not neutral during commentary then who it will be???

  • joy on June 1, 2011, 6:50 GMT

    Hi Kamran,

    Your next blog potentially/already has a very good story.. The Afridi "Re-retirement" and PCB sacking Afridi ! Can't wait to read your post on that. The name of the post could be "Afridi quits crickets -- like quiting smoking!!"

    Joy

  • Mumtaz on May 31, 2011, 15:37 GMT

    I dont think that any ICC inquiry be put up unless ajmal's action iz criticised by field umpires.......n regarding mr holding,to me he n other commentators have equal rights to give their opinion...surely ajmal is a class bowler of this era.

  • Nasir on May 31, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    I agree with Haroon here, Holding is entitled to air his opinion, that's his job. I would much rather have commentators speaking their mind than spouting the same old cliches every game (ala Ramiz Raja). I'm Pakistani as well and frankly find it a bit embarrassing that we go up in arms about every single piece of crticism directed our way. Let the ICC test Ajmal again and if they clear him, who cares what any one else says.

  • Almas on May 31, 2011, 12:36 GMT

    The action of the bowlers is always under observation especially slow bowlers from the sub continent. Commentators do give their comments on these bowlers. One of the most biased commentator I have heard is from a great fast bowler of yesteryears, if a bowler is performing well against West Indies team and their batsman are not able to play him adverse comments dropping out on the bowlers action. What about the action of Lasith Malinga, he bowls at what degree, its bowled like a side arm throw, nobody has objected to that action. But when some bowler from Pakistan starts performing well the biased comments and objections start blubbring out why this biased attitude in my opinion people dont have the guts to say straight and just things.It is about time the people should start changing their crooked thoughts and come out with straight talk.

  • Ani on May 31, 2011, 11:38 GMT

    I hope the "big hearted" Pakistanis will forgive Michael Holding. Holding should have consulted the "big hearted" Afridi before commenting. Maybe Afridi might have already left for USA after retiring for the 5th time.

  • A west indian on May 31, 2011, 11:19 GMT

    I notice every one on here is either from Pakistan or of Pakistan decent.Now i am talking up for my fellow country man.Holding is own man who speak is mind, it is either you love or hate him.I dont like some commentators who suck for their country, man who is chucking with his long sleeve to hide it.We had Shillingford, who has been banned for bowling the Doorsa when he wears a long sleeve. If Ajmal has nothing to hide let seem bowl in short sleeve. This is one reason why Pakistani cricket is always in the lime light for the wrong reason.Every one on the Caribbean web who posted during all the cricket matches that Pakistan played posted says he was chucking even before Holding said it.I dont care where that person is from i just love cricket and it should be played fair.If Ajmal was a West Indian Bowler we should say he is chucker and thats it. West Indians like to play hard and fair but when some trying to hide the fact that he is a chucker then it not cricket

  • nomi on May 31, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    I also agree with kamran and few of the writers above that why the hell on earth Mr. holding opposes the action of saeed ajmal during the first test. Its only because the windies were sailing to easily towards victory and even at that particular match saeed ajmal took 10 wickets but nobody to notice, but in second test when the team Pakistan was on a winning track Mr Holding suddenly realized that Ajmal's action was incorrect and against 15 degrees law. So this is just a mere coincidence or complete hypocracy.

  • Rohili on November 10, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    Stuart Clark is a great cricketer and we are all the poroer for not seeing him play. He was starting to do a good job leading the Blues.I still hope he will play for Australia again and show the selectors what a good consistent team player he is. He is a real gentleman and a great husband and father.Hope we will still see lots more of him in the future and his back will be OK soon.

  • Jabeer on June 19, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    well said sir......... infact it is not about saying honestly or dis honestly..... it is about his job..... this is not mr. holding's duty to say such things....... or decide for it...

  • Nustian on June 5, 2011, 18:13 GMT

    what was ramiz raja doing out during this time of period????? he should response on foolish comments like these and one during WC 2011 by Graig Chapel about Afridi.. if commentators will not neutral during commentary then who it will be???

  • joy on June 1, 2011, 6:50 GMT

    Hi Kamran,

    Your next blog potentially/already has a very good story.. The Afridi "Re-retirement" and PCB sacking Afridi ! Can't wait to read your post on that. The name of the post could be "Afridi quits crickets -- like quiting smoking!!"

    Joy

  • Mumtaz on May 31, 2011, 15:37 GMT

    I dont think that any ICC inquiry be put up unless ajmal's action iz criticised by field umpires.......n regarding mr holding,to me he n other commentators have equal rights to give their opinion...surely ajmal is a class bowler of this era.

  • Nasir on May 31, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    I agree with Haroon here, Holding is entitled to air his opinion, that's his job. I would much rather have commentators speaking their mind than spouting the same old cliches every game (ala Ramiz Raja). I'm Pakistani as well and frankly find it a bit embarrassing that we go up in arms about every single piece of crticism directed our way. Let the ICC test Ajmal again and if they clear him, who cares what any one else says.

  • Almas on May 31, 2011, 12:36 GMT

    The action of the bowlers is always under observation especially slow bowlers from the sub continent. Commentators do give their comments on these bowlers. One of the most biased commentator I have heard is from a great fast bowler of yesteryears, if a bowler is performing well against West Indies team and their batsman are not able to play him adverse comments dropping out on the bowlers action. What about the action of Lasith Malinga, he bowls at what degree, its bowled like a side arm throw, nobody has objected to that action. But when some bowler from Pakistan starts performing well the biased comments and objections start blubbring out why this biased attitude in my opinion people dont have the guts to say straight and just things.It is about time the people should start changing their crooked thoughts and come out with straight talk.

  • Ani on May 31, 2011, 11:38 GMT

    I hope the "big hearted" Pakistanis will forgive Michael Holding. Holding should have consulted the "big hearted" Afridi before commenting. Maybe Afridi might have already left for USA after retiring for the 5th time.

  • A west indian on May 31, 2011, 11:19 GMT

    I notice every one on here is either from Pakistan or of Pakistan decent.Now i am talking up for my fellow country man.Holding is own man who speak is mind, it is either you love or hate him.I dont like some commentators who suck for their country, man who is chucking with his long sleeve to hide it.We had Shillingford, who has been banned for bowling the Doorsa when he wears a long sleeve. If Ajmal has nothing to hide let seem bowl in short sleeve. This is one reason why Pakistani cricket is always in the lime light for the wrong reason.Every one on the Caribbean web who posted during all the cricket matches that Pakistan played posted says he was chucking even before Holding said it.I dont care where that person is from i just love cricket and it should be played fair.If Ajmal was a West Indian Bowler we should say he is chucker and thats it. West Indians like to play hard and fair but when some trying to hide the fact that he is a chucker then it not cricket

  • nomi on May 31, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    I also agree with kamran and few of the writers above that why the hell on earth Mr. holding opposes the action of saeed ajmal during the first test. Its only because the windies were sailing to easily towards victory and even at that particular match saeed ajmal took 10 wickets but nobody to notice, but in second test when the team Pakistan was on a winning track Mr Holding suddenly realized that Ajmal's action was incorrect and against 15 degrees law. So this is just a mere coincidence or complete hypocracy.

  • Truemans_Ghost on May 31, 2011, 8:49 GMT

    I was surprised to read this article. I didn't hear Holding's comments, but he discussed bowling actions at length in his book "No Holding Back". The thrust of it was that the ICC bowling action analysis was sufficiently rigorous as to take the opinion of out of it, to stop actions being judged by commentators etc..... like him. I've a lot of time for Holding, but he is being rather inconsistant here. That said, i think there a lot of really dodgy actions in world cricket these days. I don't comment on Saeed's specifically, but the "15 degree" rule has lead to a lot of players thinking they can get aways with borderline chucking actions.

  • Asif on May 31, 2011, 5:27 GMT

    I am really surprised @ you for not raising the issue of afridi's sacking from the captaincy.I think afridi was forced to retire by the idiotic policies of Ejaz butt who always tried to humiliate him.I would request you Kamran Bhai to start a campaign thru' your columns for the removal of the arrogant EJAZ BUTT so that pak cricket should be saved from further damage.

  • A.Khan on May 31, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    I cannot agree that Holding's comments on Ajmal's bowling action are unwarranted, or "out-of-place". He is in the first place a paid commentator, and this is what he is presently doing for a living. If one is to accept that any form of suspect bowling action(not pelting) is okay, then the special joy we get as spectators, just to see a world class batsman play a long inning in fine style will become a thing of the past. Honestly, no knowledgeable fan of cricket will tell his friends that he can't wait to see a Lara, or a Vivian Richards lose his off stumps to a chucker. The more acceptance we allow into the game for these 'cheaters', the more fans will be lost. What does it matter if Holding's comments are objective, or subjective ?

  • qasemh on May 30, 2011, 22:12 GMT

    Kamran: I do not quite understand why you genuine cricketers like Michael Holding or Ian Chappel draw your ire? You may not agree with the comments and that is fine but the intentions of those folks are beyond any doubt to many. You do not speak on behalf of all Pakistanis when you bash them.

  • Haroon on May 30, 2011, 18:13 GMT

    Why is it that these kinds of debates invariably become nationalistic? This is one inevitability I fail to fathom. Guys, I am a Pakistani, but if anyone has listened to Michael Holding over the years, you will know that he is anything but prejudiced in his approach. I actually have nothing against a bit of partiality either, particularly if your team is getting a whipping! Ever watched Amir Sohail??!! If Saeed (one of the greatest bowlers in the world today)has a crooked action, let the ICC review it from time to time to ensure he meets the standard. If he bowls the same as the last time, there is nothing to fear. And fellow Pakistanis: there are plenty of Pakistan-bashers around, but Holding is not one of them. I love the man.

  • Aditya Mani Jha on May 30, 2011, 11:19 GMT

    @Kamran: I agree that Holding took it too far, and his outpourings have been getting increasingly weird ("Kieron Pollard is not a cricketer" being another stellar example.. ) Ajmal for me is one of the best spin bowlers in the world today.. and definitely a throwback to the kind of classical offspin which Holding himself might have seen/faced in his days..

  • CricketPissek on May 30, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    Holding the bowler will always be an absolute legend. Holding the commentator is a grumpy old man. He is a purist, which we all should respect. However, he is also very very rude and extremely arrogant and refuses to believe his opinion may be incorrect. His attacks on Murali made me feel nothing but disgust for his opinion in the throwing matter. Using a protractor is wrong for one simple reason, it's not illegal to bowl with a bent arm! if it started at 5 degs and ended up at 19 degs, it's still legal!

  • Ali on May 30, 2011, 7:27 GMT

    @ SRT_GENIUS "unncessary piece"? well you shouldn't be commenting on unncessary pieces in the first place plus i wonder how would you feel if Holding were to put a lousy protractor on Bhaji in a match on live tv. and fair enough Holding has a right to speak his mind but why would u be so upset with Kamran Abbasi speaking his own mind? Holding brought this on to himself. Kamran is a journalist and he put every perspective into this article. if holding knew that this 15 degree rule will eventually give bowlers an unfair advantage why did he even agreed to sit on that committe beats my mind and if he still had issues with ajmals action then im prety sure there are much better ways of dealing with it than to use a lousy protractor and straight away dismiss the best spin bowler of presnt time. Having said that i still have huge huge respect for Michael Holding. he just got it wrong this time.

  • Abhishek on May 30, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    "When ICC changed the bowling law to allow for the scientifically proven variation in flexibility of human joints, it was a sensible end-product of detailed biomechanical analysis of a wide variety of bowling actions in nets and in match conditions. All bowlers were flexing their elbows." I do not think ICC did any such analysis as you say in the first statement. The allowance to 15 degrees happened right after they analysed Murali's action, and smacks of a political move. The 2nd statement tells the whole story. A lot of people do it, yes. That does not make it right.

  • cowee jnes on May 30, 2011, 3:47 GMT

    i totally agree with the writer.thats all

  • Venkball on May 29, 2011, 21:34 GMT

    I don't think there's a need for over-reaction here. Holding is a commentator (paid to speak) and it is within his right to air his views. He is not obligated to fact-check and verify every one of his pronouncements either. Now, all the same, his is just an opinion. He is not the one that is going to make a decision. If you are worried that Holding's words will influence the decision makers, my take is that people do their jobs well (after analysis) that should have no bearing.

    Cheers, Kamran,keep writing - i like to see your articles. Venky

  • Reddy on May 28, 2011, 12:27 GMT

    I am Sorry, but you have very characteristically taken this amiss and extremely personal. Extremely strong reaction to negativity from a seasoned writer. Holding has a right to his opinion and I have always supported him as a purist who spoke his mind. I cant see how Kamran has connected the Holding's comments right upto the era of Windies domination of the game. What a big mountain out of a mole hill?

  • Asim on May 28, 2011, 12:21 GMT

    I think it was just a matter of sour grapes from Holding ... because in the first test when westindies won and ajmal took more then 10 wkts, nobody was questioning his action as it was in the second test when it was clear that westindies are going to loose. They should accept the defeat gracefully. If we start to question each and every loss then Pakistani commentators should question how come the ball used while pakistan was batting in the last innings of 1st test was seaming that much?

    As for people objecting Kamran's piece, well if they agree with commentators speaking their mind, I guess a person writing the blog also has the right to write what is in his mind :) .... We Clap with two hands remember :)

  • P.Satish on May 28, 2011, 11:37 GMT

    Wonderful article! I am glad someone had the guts to speak the truth: Michael Holding is a hypocrite.

    For a man who doesn't consider Pollard a "cricketer" just because he plays the IPL and other T20 championships, Holding certainly didn't have too many qualms behaving like a mercenary and going off to join Packer. In a recent interview, he said he was relieved when he saw his bank account after the Packer series so what moral high ground does he see in abusing T20 cricket and those who make a living out of it like Pollard and Bravo?

  • chinmay on May 28, 2011, 8:49 GMT

    in cricket the batsman can get away with everything from switch hit to ramp shots......when they try something new they innovate....and when bowlers especially the asian variety spinners try something.... it qualifies as breaking law, chucking and bending sports laws......can't think of anything more unfair than that.........

  • Aparajithan on May 28, 2011, 4:31 GMT

    and i heard him talk about bcci and drs during the eng v sl test, which if it comes in the same sentence qualifies as nothing but a rant. and i have watched a growing trend of the english commentators on sky berate bcci at the drop of a hat for over 4 years now since india's last tour of england. where do they think they get any sort of moral upper ground?

  • Srini on May 27, 2011, 23:48 GMT

    It is a television commentary and Mr. Holding is paid to speak his opinion on the happenings of the game. Ajmal is part of the play and when playing international cricket, it is imperative that the points of view are not the same. Unless there is name calling (like terrorist / cheater), there should not be a problem with commentators stating their mind on television. After all, that is what makes watching cricket on television interesting. Anyways, there must be a woeful lot to write about the recent series and picking up a non issue is certainly not the way to go. I am disappointed with this article. There seems to be no freedom of expression any more and a renowned honest cricketer is lashed out, in an article for expressing his personal opinion.

  • SRT_GENIUS on May 27, 2011, 22:13 GMT

    Unnecessary piece. By defending Ajmal so vociferously, you are looking guilty. Your attitude should be that it's for ICC to decide. And commentators job is to comment on everything "on field" - that does include bowling action!! In fact I vaguely remember Kamran attacking Brett Lee for his action some years back!

  • Dr.Limple on May 27, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    Completely agree with the point you are making. Holding is normally a very decent guy but I guess defeat tends to bring out the worst in people. And Ahsan is also very right in pointing out that if the elbow bending in Ajmal's doosra was so obvious, why is it that not just ordinary batsmen but even world class one's like Tendulkar have difficulty picking it up?

  • Doosra_Googly on May 27, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    Bitter, much? Was that an "attack" on Ajmal? Hardly. Holding called it as it was. We need more Holdings.

  • Hitesh Joshi on May 27, 2011, 15:12 GMT

    Bit too harsh on Holding and probably overdefensive as well.....this comment on Ajmal does not diminish the image of the Holding ...it certainly diminishes his image in your eyes but the whole world will continue to respect him like they used.

    I admire Ajmal's bowling..but more than that I admire Holding's legacy and if he has some suspicion about anyone's action, he is free to comment on it.

  • Omar Hussain on May 27, 2011, 14:49 GMT

    I just can't understand because Holding has appeared to be a frank and honest character in the past but his going after Ajmal is baffling as he knows there are two umpires out there to do a job.Perhaps he just can't get the hang of the WI batsmen playing like myopics tp our spinners.Sour grapes MIke!Thought you were a MAN!

  • Tahir Rashid on May 27, 2011, 13:32 GMT

    Well it is true to say Holding does speak his mind and I enjoy his commentary. Often he is quite critical of his own countrymen but to comment on some one's bowling action and calling it illegal on air is going too far. To me it sounds like sour grapes! Non-subcontinent teams apparently are alien to the doosra mantra.

  • True West Indian on May 27, 2011, 13:07 GMT

    I also agree with Adeel. Holding always speaks his mind and he has been highly critical of any and everything that he does not consider to be right in the game he loves. From sport fixing to inconsistent umpiring, regardless of the player or the country he comes from. If you listen to most of the former West Indian greats who are now commentators, they are the same way. Ian Bishop, Collin Croft and all West Indian commentators in general. They are publicly critical of what they consider to be nonsense, especially when it comes to West Indies cricket. This is what makes West Indies and the West Indian people different. We are obsessed with the game, not the players!

  • Jibi on May 27, 2011, 11:15 GMT

    I completely agree with MR Michael holding, It is no rocket science to deduce that there is something wrong with Ajmal's action. That is visible to the ordinary spectator like me and he has played the game when it was played most fairly when the only things that did the talking on the cricket field were bat and ball. If he says the action is suspicious then it is . It should be cricketing legends who should decide who is having a ball on the field and not some high definition ultra motion camera

  • Rana Rocky on May 27, 2011, 10:01 GMT

    i agree with u kamran. although u've used very soft words for people like him who r using their powers wrongly. i m fed up listening to people pointing fingers on bowlers. Muralitheran, Malinga, Shoaib, Ajmal... so many of them. in one article i was astonished to read the writer saying saqlain was "probebly" able to bowl doosra because of a kink in his arm, and in the same article saying this art has been mastered by the likes of harbhajan singh. what the hell was that supposed to mean? Anyway, thanks kamran for speaking for all the pakistanis who r hurt and furious due to these comments. and thaks God osman samiudding didnt write this article otherwise he would have ended up cursing his own team... as always.

  • Konig on May 27, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    As long as criticism is not personal, it ought to be taken constructively. Michael Holding has a reputation of standing up for principles. Remember when he refused to be a commentator - at personal financial cost - when a few years ago W. Indies appointed Carl Hooper its test captain in 2000/1. Reason: C. Hooper had turned his back on W. Indies cricket so it was wrong to make him leader of the team.

  • MapleLeaf on May 27, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    Adeel/Malay, holding was sleeping when ajmal was bowling against other sides of the world??

  • diamondheart on May 27, 2011, 2:51 GMT

    completely agree with couple of fellow commenters here.. Mr.Holding is a no nonsense commentator (who said the fellow west-indian "Pollard can't be called a cricketer", when many of us consider him as a pretty good player). He speaks his mind, and we do not need commentators (in the TV era) if they are just going to say "outside off-stump, square-cut played" or "left alone", thanks.. we can see it for ourselves. We need analysis, their thoughts.. 'cause greats like Holding have been there, done that. And coming to the point, as someone mentioned here.. players (Ajmal, Harbhajan, Murali or any of them..) can always getaway by my making adjustment during the icc test ('cause they are not bowling to take wickets there, but to clear their name).. and on-field, an umpire is not going to figure out if it was a 15 degree or 16.. he would rather not call 'cause icc cleared the player.

  • A. Khan on May 27, 2011, 2:13 GMT

    Was Holding complaining about Ajmal's overall action or just when bowling the "doosra" ? If just the "doosra", it begs the question why West Indian batsmen have such a hard time reading Ajmal given that elbow joint bends more when it is bowled ? Someone has not been doing their homework.

  • Andrew on May 26, 2011, 23:58 GMT

    Michael Holding is not a vindictive man and has nothing against Pakistan cricket.

    I remember him being close to tears when the controversy over Mohammad Amir broke, because he knew the cricket world could lose a sublime talent.

    Similarly, he has often been glowing in his praise of Imran Khan, which Imran often reciprocates by referring to Holding as the greatest fast bowler of his time.

    In his autobiography, Holding talks about the 15 degree rule, and believes that it is difficult for most people to bowl the doosra without exceeding the limit. This has been his position for many years.

    Michael Holding is a paid commentator who is expected to share his views, and if he has a problem with this gentleman's action, then maybe there is something to it.

  • Faisal Amin on May 26, 2011, 22:50 GMT

    Holding could not possibly make a judgement about Ajmal's bowling action by looking at 2D images on screen. ICC's bio-mechanical tests are a much better process of checking the legality of a bowler's action than Mr. Holding eyesight. During these tests, bowlers are required to bowl all varieties of balls including doosras and hence a bowler can not fool the system by not bowling the doosras. Its highly regrettable that Holding, despite knowing these facts, chose to comment on Ajmal's action.

  • muzz on May 26, 2011, 20:19 GMT

    Commentry and commentry by an expert is different - michael holding was one of the greatest fast bowlers- no doubt about it. He can definitely be regarded as expert commentator on fast bowling BUT when he starts analysing and criticising the spinners, batsman and the wicket keeper he makes me laugh, then he becomes a mathmetician? I wonder when will be he commentating on basket ball or football - needs to stick to his own expert area to be respected (fast bowling) otherwise he will loose it.

  • Yasir on May 26, 2011, 17:54 GMT

    @Ahsan, you have put a complex equation of reading a Doosra in front of whole world batsmen in very simple manner. Now all batsman should simply see with naked eye if it is a throw then it will spin other way, otherwise play it as off spin. I hope they can play him better.

  • Muzammil on May 26, 2011, 17:15 GMT

    Saeed Ajmal has clearly said he is cleared from the ICC. He is allowed to bowl upto 23.5 degrees but I dont know why the likes of great Micheal Holding and Bishop saying all what they should not OR atleast say in more proper words so that one makes his stance clear without harming other's respect.

  • DaGameChanger on May 26, 2011, 17:14 GMT

    Not a big deal. If he is genuine, he doesnt have to worry. Murali had to prove his innocence multiple times and he did it with so ease that Aus media were actually showing his action in 2008 VB Cup that he did during pre-match sessions from different angles. So More you deny, more they go after you.

  • Atul Bhogle on May 26, 2011, 16:18 GMT

    Just because the bowler at the receiving end was from Pakistan does not give you the right to question Holding's motives, Kamran. I for one am with the likes of Holding and Bedi here. If it looks a throw to the naked eye, thats it. The 15 degree rule was not brought in as a limit at which a throw is discernible to the naked eye, but because it was found that almost all bowlers chuck to that extent.

    Of course, at the other end of the spectrum you have all laws and playing conditions favouring batsmen, so there is a case of saving something for the bowlers. But this would not be the way to do it. Lengthen the boundaries and have better pitches - that should do the trick.

  • Rauf on May 26, 2011, 15:58 GMT

    At the end of the day, I will still put Holding in a different league then say Chappell who went after Afridi with vengeance during Q finals of world cup. That was pure and simple mean.

    I accuse Holding of maybe stepping over that invisible commentator's line where they may comment on something onfield BUT NOT become judges themselves. Maybe Holding still can't get over the spanking Windies got from Pakistan at the World Cup or the fact that Windies are to the south of even Pakistan in ICC rankings. He should direct his fire at Gayle and Pollard for opting out of this series and going for $$$ at IPL.

  • Balaji Annan on May 26, 2011, 15:47 GMT

    @Sumaan Azmi, Comentators do have a unwritten code to follow while speaking their mind. It wasn't the first time that Mr. Holding acted as a tv-commentator in a match where Ajmal was bowling. Why he spoke his mind only when WI was on the recieving end. Secondly, Mr. Holding was a member of that committee which was instrumental in making of this 15 degree rule and he knows that even some of the great bowlers of his own time including West indians were found to be bending it above 12 degrees. I can tell you as an indian that Ajmal doesn't even bend as much as our main spinner Bhaji does. Ajmal is a great bowler of this time and people like Holding should not try to take him away from cricket lovers only because Ajmal made West indians look like batting fools.

  • amir on May 26, 2011, 15:26 GMT

    A batsman is either able to bat or not able to bat.. Plus or minus a few degree should not make any difference. All those people whinning about the bent arm.. why don't you complain about the protective gear and the scientificslly designed bats. So the ball spins a few more degrees.. Learn to bat..

  • Sujee on May 26, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    With all due respect to Mr Abbasi, I would like to point out that M. Holding is not airing his ire. In fact, I duly believe that Holding was one of the few original people who had reservations about Muralitharan as well. He just does not like people who bend their arms. Another valid point is that the theoretical bowling action is an unnatural one. That is, by design the elbow is a fulcrum, whose sole purpose is to allow bending. So, in effect all bowlers perform an action reverse to their nature, which implies that you cannot be a bowler unless you are a supreme athlete, which Holding was. I believe he just does not like to see the level of athleticism in current bowlers getting diluted due to the rule which allows the bowlers to bend their arms. Bringing the current performance of Windies cricket team and all into this discussion is not fair. By all means, Holding was airing his views and only that I presume.

  • S. Choudhry on May 26, 2011, 13:21 GMT

    Abbasi makes a stirring defense of the game's best spinner (if not one of the best) today. Syed Ajmal is a delight to watch. His fetching smile when he has duped the batsman is a treat even to us (non-Pakistanis). Michael Holding terrorised batsmen at a time when helmets were not in use. Not taking anything away from the man. But lets ask ourselves, did he invent the reverse swing? Did he play smarts with the ball like Zaheer Khan does? he was no Wasim Akram or Waqar Yunus? He was all speed and bluster. Ajmal is as wily as they come. The mind games with the batsmen as he throws his googlies is just delightful. I can't wait to to see what happens in county cricket when Warwickshire bowls Ajmal and Sakib from opposing ends. Imagine two of the world's best spin wizards in the same team. So Miachael Holding , just shut up or u will be without a job. U have no class. U r out to defame a great bowler whose name will be way above yours in the record books.

  • Malay on May 26, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    Completely agree with Adeel. Holding's is one of the sanest voice in cricket today.

  • Jacob Sahayam on May 26, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    Holding always speaks his mind. In the past he had been extremely critical of Gayle and Pollard too.

  • Srini on May 26, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    I think Holding thought Ajmal's action is suspect, he should have taken action through established channels which I am sure he is aware of. There is no need to dissect the bowlers action live on TV. The simple fact is, WI batting was pathetic and absolutely clueless against quality spin bowling. What is more surprising is that they themselves provided these spin friendly pitches. Holding is probably better off initiating a discussion on this with WI board.

  • Saud Sami on May 26, 2011, 11:20 GMT

    Thank you Kamran for saying it out.

    That "clumsy protractor graphic" was not even measuring the correct angle! it was measuring the angle between the vertical and his arm and not the angle at his elbow. If that is the angle to measure then Malinga is probably bowling at an 80' angle!

  • Adeel on May 26, 2011, 10:55 GMT

    I do agree with you to an extend. But I do not think mr. Holding was saying what he said because of any personal ire he has against Saeed Ajmal. Holding is someone who loves the game in its purest state and dislikes everything which, in his opinion, infringes upon its sacred nature. He dislikes chuckers, we all do. I remember Holding almost crying over the fact Aamir was implicated in the spot fixing case. What I can state that the ICC will now again review Ajmal's action, only because some commentators on tv said something about an action of someone. It's a pity they don't act when the same commentators lament the functioning of the ICC, the anti corruption unit and de decline of cricket in general.

  • Syed Osama on May 26, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    Well said.. Commentators job is to comment on the cricket being played.. Not to start judging actions etc etc...wonder if some thing given out by on field umpires can be interrupted by Mr. Holding on tv and be given not out...coz the umpire wasn't looking from the correct angle...

  • rohaan ali on May 26, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    yeah u r right mr kamran abbasi,,there was an attack over the best arguably he fantastic bowler in this era...i don,t know y people cant see any pakistani player produce such magic and variety ,,,

  • Ahsan on May 26, 2011, 10:08 GMT

    Spot on Kamran!!! If holding thinks that Ajmal's Doosra is beyond the 15 degree limit and hence visible to the naked eye as a throw, then his fellow countrymen should have had no problem differentiating a throw (the doosra) from a legal delivery (normal offspin)

  • Sumaan Azmi on May 26, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Nice article but I can only partially agree with you here.

    Commentators speaking their mind and giving honest thoughts about a bowler's action should not be considered an 'attack'. I think a bowler can keep his arm a lot straighter during ICC's action inspection test and bend it a lot more during a cricket match. And yes, full sleeves do give these bowlers a slight edge during cricket matches.

    However, Holding should not take anything away from Ajmal's ability to baffle world class batsmen. He is a great sportsman with a great temperament. And if Holding were to criticize, he should not just pin point Ajmal - we all know how most of the other off spinners nowadays who can't master the doosra tend to bend their arms as well (perhaps a lot more than Ajmal if seen from the naked eye).

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  • Sumaan Azmi on May 26, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Nice article but I can only partially agree with you here.

    Commentators speaking their mind and giving honest thoughts about a bowler's action should not be considered an 'attack'. I think a bowler can keep his arm a lot straighter during ICC's action inspection test and bend it a lot more during a cricket match. And yes, full sleeves do give these bowlers a slight edge during cricket matches.

    However, Holding should not take anything away from Ajmal's ability to baffle world class batsmen. He is a great sportsman with a great temperament. And if Holding were to criticize, he should not just pin point Ajmal - we all know how most of the other off spinners nowadays who can't master the doosra tend to bend their arms as well (perhaps a lot more than Ajmal if seen from the naked eye).

  • Ahsan on May 26, 2011, 10:08 GMT

    Spot on Kamran!!! If holding thinks that Ajmal's Doosra is beyond the 15 degree limit and hence visible to the naked eye as a throw, then his fellow countrymen should have had no problem differentiating a throw (the doosra) from a legal delivery (normal offspin)

  • rohaan ali on May 26, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    yeah u r right mr kamran abbasi,,there was an attack over the best arguably he fantastic bowler in this era...i don,t know y people cant see any pakistani player produce such magic and variety ,,,

  • Syed Osama on May 26, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    Well said.. Commentators job is to comment on the cricket being played.. Not to start judging actions etc etc...wonder if some thing given out by on field umpires can be interrupted by Mr. Holding on tv and be given not out...coz the umpire wasn't looking from the correct angle...

  • Adeel on May 26, 2011, 10:55 GMT

    I do agree with you to an extend. But I do not think mr. Holding was saying what he said because of any personal ire he has against Saeed Ajmal. Holding is someone who loves the game in its purest state and dislikes everything which, in his opinion, infringes upon its sacred nature. He dislikes chuckers, we all do. I remember Holding almost crying over the fact Aamir was implicated in the spot fixing case. What I can state that the ICC will now again review Ajmal's action, only because some commentators on tv said something about an action of someone. It's a pity they don't act when the same commentators lament the functioning of the ICC, the anti corruption unit and de decline of cricket in general.

  • Saud Sami on May 26, 2011, 11:20 GMT

    Thank you Kamran for saying it out.

    That "clumsy protractor graphic" was not even measuring the correct angle! it was measuring the angle between the vertical and his arm and not the angle at his elbow. If that is the angle to measure then Malinga is probably bowling at an 80' angle!

  • Srini on May 26, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    I think Holding thought Ajmal's action is suspect, he should have taken action through established channels which I am sure he is aware of. There is no need to dissect the bowlers action live on TV. The simple fact is, WI batting was pathetic and absolutely clueless against quality spin bowling. What is more surprising is that they themselves provided these spin friendly pitches. Holding is probably better off initiating a discussion on this with WI board.

  • Jacob Sahayam on May 26, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    Holding always speaks his mind. In the past he had been extremely critical of Gayle and Pollard too.

  • Malay on May 26, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    Completely agree with Adeel. Holding's is one of the sanest voice in cricket today.

  • S. Choudhry on May 26, 2011, 13:21 GMT

    Abbasi makes a stirring defense of the game's best spinner (if not one of the best) today. Syed Ajmal is a delight to watch. His fetching smile when he has duped the batsman is a treat even to us (non-Pakistanis). Michael Holding terrorised batsmen at a time when helmets were not in use. Not taking anything away from the man. But lets ask ourselves, did he invent the reverse swing? Did he play smarts with the ball like Zaheer Khan does? he was no Wasim Akram or Waqar Yunus? He was all speed and bluster. Ajmal is as wily as they come. The mind games with the batsmen as he throws his googlies is just delightful. I can't wait to to see what happens in county cricket when Warwickshire bowls Ajmal and Sakib from opposing ends. Imagine two of the world's best spin wizards in the same team. So Miachael Holding , just shut up or u will be without a job. U have no class. U r out to defame a great bowler whose name will be way above yours in the record books.