ICC annual conference 2014

Illegal bowling action process under review

Daniel Brettig

June 25, 2014

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A

Kane Williamson has a bowl, England v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Leeds, 2nd day, May 25, 2013
File photo - New Zealand offspinner Kane Williamson was recently reported for a suspect action © Getty Images

Illegal bowling action procedures for international matches will be reviewed, with the potential for suspect bowlers to be monitored more closely even after they have passed the round of biomechanical testing currently required.

The ICC chief executives committee meeting in Melbourne as part of the governing body's annual conference, recommended that ICC management review the current process for reporting, assessing and clearing suspect bowling actions, while also suggesting that wider powers may need to be applied to allow the monitoring of suspect actions beyond the end of formal testing.

"The message out of the cricket committee was there's enough bowlers with suspect actions that should be being scrutinised, that probably haven't been," Geoff Allardice, ICC general manager of cricket, said. "By scrutinised, it just means they're being tested whenever there are concerns raised. At this stage, it's been pretty quiet for a couple of years. The cricket committee was of the view there are some bowlers operating with suspect actions that should be scrutinised a bit more closely."

Recommendations from the review may include ongoing screening for bowlers who pass their initial biomechanical tests after being reported, and more rigorous reporting processes. "Also whether it's possible to get a panel of experts involved, who are able to detect from looking at footage what is elbow extension and what isn't," Allardice said. "We'll review procedures over the next three months and then come back to the chief executives in October with some recommendations about modifications to the procedures to make sure they're doing the job for the game."

Two days of CEC meetings focused primarily upon the settling of greater detail over the range of FTP agreements signed bilaterally for 2015 to 2023, binding all nations to play each other over the period in some contrast to recent years, when India, England and Australia have increasingly erred on the side of lucrative touring between the three nations to the exclusion of others.

"Obviously the more commercially attractive opponents play each other a bit more frequently, but I think there was a genuine respect amongst the members that they wanted to try and include everyone in their schedules," Allardice said. "From that point of view, there is a good balance between the formats.

"There is definitely a focus on Test cricket and trying to make sure it is promoted and played in the different countries, and the Test competition and the rankings have integrity through everyone playing everyone else."

Commitments to play the likes of Bangladesh will result in some creative scheduling, with at least one top-end series likely for Australia over the period, a concept last used in 2008. "The timing of series is one thing that has been sorted out in that both teams are available to play at the same time," Allardice said. "The content that's agreed within the countries in that space has still got to be thrashed out over the next couple of weeks."

Also discussed in some depth were concerns over the balance between bat and ball in recent times, as leaps forward in bat technology and shrinking boundaries have allowed batsmen to become even more dominant than they had been over the preceding decade, particularly in limited-overs formats. Allardice said that maximum possible boundary dimensions would be enforced far more rigorously, while bats would also be monitored.

"[Boundary size] is in the playing conditions at the moment but it will be something we remind the various countries about leading up to the cricket over the next few months," he said. "Match referees will be checking to see whether grounds are set-up to the maximum possible boundary size.

"At the moment the maximum is 90 yards, but with the way bats are performing these days and the way the batsmen are hitting the ball, sometimes mis-hits are carrying for six, and there is concern that balance is a bit skewed at the moment. The immediate step is let's do what we can with boundary sizes, but we'll be keeping an eye on bat technology closely over the next couple of years ... across all formats."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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Posted by eggyroe on (June 28, 2014, 10:14 GMT)

@Chandramouli.G,the largest ground by playing area is The Gaddafi Stadium and the Second largest is the Kensington Oval.So do away with the ropes,use the whole of the playing surface available and bring fielders with very strong arms.Another suggestion is to have very fit batsmen who may have to run all run fours and maybe the odd five.Another plus is that the batting averages of batsmen may rise.

Posted by Chandramouli.G on (June 28, 2014, 6:35 GMT)

Just for my Knowledge : Which is the Largest Cricket Stadium* by Playing Area? Is it the MCG, surely not Wankhede!!

*Exclusive of Capacity of Crowd - Only playing area!!!]

But surely, there should be a fixed Diameter for the grounds, and the maximum Area possible should be used. So, NO pulling in of boundary ropes!!!

CATCHES WIN MATCHES!! But where is the place for fielders to take The Catches when Ropes are pulled in?!?

A 60mts Six in Wankhede, does not even carry to a fielder in MCG!

Posted by eggyroe on (June 27, 2014, 19:02 GMT)

@Prem2248 ,with regard to your comments,in days gone by 2 fast bowler's were thrown out of the game by umpires over 50 year's ago and who had no recourse to modern technology only the naked eye.Therefore if it is good enough 50 years ago then surely it is good enough now,when the umpires verdict should be final.When was the last bowler ejected from the game for throwing as opposed to being reported for a suspect action,and then allowed with minimal correction to return to International Cricket,but on the field of play they still look extremely suspect to say the least.Another point I would like to make to @ fkhawaja,as an Englishman this is not a conspiracy against Sub Continent teams just an opinion that throwing has to banned from the game wherever the source comes from,after all a well regulated cheat free game is surely all that we supporter's for which ever team we follow is what is required.

Posted by Prem2248 on (June 27, 2014, 13:57 GMT)

Before straightening, bending has to be taken place. A fast bowler of normal action is proved to have made their arm bent more than a spinner does (close to 15 degrees).Many a number of fast bowler of extremely fast bowling actions of yesteryear could have gone undetected, it was only the spinners and the fast bowlers of very clear chucking action were penalised.

Posted by dunger.bob on (June 27, 2014, 7:48 GMT)

AvmanM: Your idea takes out 2 of the most beautiful shots in the game. The delicate late cut and the equally delightful little leg glance. The best idea is to play the game on decent sized grounds. If a top edge still goes for six, so be it, but you'll find a lot of these guys suddenly getting caught in the deep.

Posted by eggyroe on (June 26, 2014, 16:23 GMT)

@bobmartin,I agree with your comment's about previous generations of Test Match Bowlers.I'm old enough to remember Ian Meckiff and Geoff Griffen being thrown out if you excuse the pun,of the game for throwing.I do agree that this was more than 50 Years ago but surely if the bowlers cannot bowl within the laws of cricket they should surely be banned irrespective of who they are.I would also like to comment about the size of the playing arena,surely if there is grass then the whole of the grassed area should be the designated the field of play,with no rope,this in theory speeds up the game because unless the ball reaches the fence for a boundary to be signaled,there will be no need for the third umpire to be involved about did the fielder touch the rope while in contact with the ball.As for the size of Bats,I have stated many times before,the modern day bats seem to be a waste of time and money when the Top 12 Test Match Batsmen in the averages retired many years ago

Posted by   on (June 26, 2014, 10:39 GMT)

In Sri Lanka's tour of Australia, the on field mike picked up Arjuna Ranatunga instructing Murali to bowl leg breaks which are considered to be impossible to "throw" but the leg umpire called him even when he did so. Interpret that how you will. Murali's case has to be treated as exceptional due to the natural deformity of his arms. He has even proved his "innocence" by bowling with a cast. However, many of today's bowlers do" in my mind" have suspicious actions, especially those who have exaggerated pauses in their delivery stride just before delivering the ball. Murali never bowled with an exaggerated pause in his delivery stride. It beggars belief that any bowler could "bowl" from a stand still position without flexing his elbow. This is an unfair advantage and has to be addressed by ICC. The bowlers should not be allowed to "pause" in their delivery stride, but should deliver with a smooth approach and release. Agree totally about monitoring the boundaries and bat width/weight.

Posted by Chandramouli.G on (June 26, 2014, 10:01 GMT)

Just for my Knowledge : Which is the Largest Cricket Stadium* by Playing Area? Is it the MCG, surely not Wankhede!!

*Exclusive of Capacity of Crowd - Only playing area!!!

But surely, there should be a fixed Diameter for the grounds, and the maximum Area possible should be used. So, NO pulling in of boundary ropes!!!

CATCHES WIN MATCHES!! But where is the place for fielders to take The Catches when Ropes are pulled in?!?

A 60mts Six in Wankhede, does not even carry to a fielder in MCG!

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (June 26, 2014, 7:54 GMT)

Prem2248 and fkhawaja, it is comments like yours that I am referring to when I mention pointless distractions from the actual issue at and. This has nothing to do with your team being victimised or people wanting to change the rules. It is about enforcing rules that make the game what it is,the same rules that have effectively been around for over a century. There is no evidence whatsoever that England or Australia are doing anything different now to what they have been doing all along: consistently practicing what they preach. These countries have insisted all along that the doosra and associated deliveries is not legal, and have been firm in managing this IN THEIR OWN COUNTRIES and without exception. There is no evidence for any change of policy whatsoever. Take a leaf from NZ and accept these administrative procedures with grace and good humour.

Posted by HEARTOUT on (June 26, 2014, 7:13 GMT)

Wel wel wel if and only if this is implemented as it is then half of current Sri Lankan bowlers including fast(though all are medium) will be out and more than lot who are willing to bowl for sri lanka in clubs and domestic circle will be never be able to make it to international cricket.

I only wonder about those wickets and bowlers who have already created unbreakable records with such illegal deliveries will be considered themselves extremely lucky but justice would be that all those records should be considered null and void. I am not against anyone but when we are living in era of 36Cameras covering and DRS and all this technology and cricketers paid in millions things should be as pure as it gets.

Posted by fkhawaja on (June 26, 2014, 6:18 GMT)

It is the same old story. The countries like England are always trying to stir up these issues when they start loosing to subcontinental teams. I can bet when India come this time there will be no issues because of their strong position in world cricket. I would really love to see some media guys critisizing any of the Indian bowler's action.

Posted by bobmartin on (June 26, 2014, 4:57 GMT)

A lot of the commenters on here seem to be ignoring some basic facts...1) There is nothing in either the Laws or the ICC playing regulations about bowling with a bent arm... It is straightening the arm during the delivery swing which creates the "throw". 2) The Law has basically stood the test of time without all this controversy for years, with only a few bowlers ever having been "No-Balled" for throwing. 3) The Law still bans any straightening of the arm. It is only the ICC which has "allowed" bowlers to effectively throw the ball and get away with it by introducing a playing condition which is impossible to administer during actual play. So the question is....what as happened to the human race whereby it now seems that a majority of bowlers are physically unable to do what many of their forebears seem to have been able to do without any problem... ie bowl a cricket ball without throwing it ?

Posted by Udendra on (June 26, 2014, 3:37 GMT)

That last talk about bats and field dimensions is very important. It has affected the balance of the game.

Posted by Prem2248 on (June 26, 2014, 1:59 GMT)

During the time of Murali's scrutinisation was done, it was proved that fast bowlers of normal bowling action, tend to make their arms bent more, than that a spinner does. Every fast bowler is proved to have bent their somewhat close to 15 degrees, it was because of this reason that the 15degree mark is come into being. It seems that officials & umpires have forgotten this very fact now. This discrimination only against the wkt taking spinners can be considered as the umpires' & Match referees' intentions to be smart in the eyes of ICC. When Murali was reported last was after Murali started using his DOOSRA delivery against Englishmen Dec2003 and won the series for the SLans. Then came Aussies in March2004, the match referee for the Australian series was responsible for reporting and strangely enough all LBWs appeal against Doosra deliveries were ignored and Aussies won the series 3-0 having lagged behind, in all 3 1st Innings.(Stats ref. Cricinfo)

Posted by   on (June 26, 2014, 0:41 GMT)

When ICC's own findings said 99% of all bowlers straighten their arms during the delivery it was recommended to have a 15 degree limit which was anyway the observable limit for the human eye. People who complain about spinners need to understand the high level of hypermobility in some people. I've seen some spinners I've played with being able to touch their forearm with their thumb. Imagine the amount of things you could do to a ball with that amount of flexibility. The bending of the arm get's your wrist into a position to spin it in a different direction like in the case of the Doosra. There is no advantage gained from straightening from there. The world leading wicket taker as @aaditya98june said had his action cleared so many times and is probably the only bowler who bowled the Doosra with a cast on. Let's not speculate and stoop to mud slinging. Hope the ICC and bio mechanic experts come up with a way to measure people in game so you identify fast bowlers and spinners.

Posted by AvmanM on (June 25, 2014, 22:55 GMT)

Cricket needs to take a page out of baseball's books and introduce the idea of a foul territory. Too many scoops, paddle sweeps and top edges go for four or six over the keeper's head. Simply helping the ball along does not constitute good batting. The law should be changed so that batsmen cannot score runs between third man and fine leg, except for wicketkeeper errors resulting in byes.

Posted by Philip_Gnana on (June 25, 2014, 22:30 GMT)

Those of us who have known about the throwing and gaining undue advantage in gaining that speed is now far forgotten. ICC has never released the names of the bowlers who exceeded the 10 degree limit when it extended it to 15 degrees. A list would have been ideal with the levels of flexing. But those who are now being targeted are spinners...my mind now boggles, that a flighted delivery is now judged in the same manner of the then throwing rule. They preferred to let the press pass the buck on to Muralitharan than expose those who had been "illegally" bowling and taking wickets. We were told at that time that if the flexing was not extended to 15 degrees that no bowler other than Surely, the same swing can be triggered if a bowler can turn his wrist 180 degrees?

Posted by nursery_ender on (June 25, 2014, 19:53 GMT)

I think banning long sleeved shirts will have to come in - with the range of skintight undergarments available now warmth shouldn't be an excuse.

Posted by Cricketfan11111 on (June 25, 2014, 18:33 GMT)

@bobmartin, icc allows <15 degrees straightening. But how can an umpire differentiate between 14.5 degrees and 15.5 degrees to call the no-ball? Calling no-ball will only humiliate the bowler and the team. ICC does not want a repeat of what happened to Murali in Australia. Reporting the suspect action after the match, checking in the laboratory and getting remedy is the better way to deal with than no- balling.

Posted by bobmartin on (June 25, 2014, 16:59 GMT)

Posted by Cricketfan11111 on (June 25, 2014, 12:31 GMT) "Bowling with the bent arm is not illegal. But straightening for more than 15 degrees is". The first sentence is 100% correct. The second one is incorrect. Law 24.2.3 states: Definition of fair delivery - the arm. A ball is fairly delivered in respect of the arm if, once the bowler's arm has reached the level of the shoulder in the delivery swing, the elbow joint is not straightened partially or completely from that point until the ball has left the hand. The 15 degree allowance is an ICC playing condition and is NOT in the Laws. No more that the stupid business of not "No-Balling" As a result a bowler can throw until he gets reported, and even then can continue throwing until he has been checked. Meantime all the wickets he has taken and the results of all the matches he may have affected stand.

Posted by aaditya98june on (June 25, 2014, 15:24 GMT)

It is a typical case of trying to lock the stable after the horses have bolted. After so many years of inacton resulting in a bowler with obvious suspect action holding the world record for wickets taken, now ICC wants to toughen the laws. The only thing that ICC can do is to give the power back to the on-field umpires and immediate removal of the bowler with suspect action. But then I dont think it will happen.

Posted by Barnbarroch on (June 25, 2014, 15:06 GMT)

It's a lot easier to detect a bent arm and straightening than it is to judge whether the amount of bend/straightening is more or less than 15°. A return to ONLY straight arm bowling would improve the game and reduce the amount of controversy.

Posted by FSL2013 on (June 25, 2014, 14:46 GMT)

@Chandramouli.G : This is what host country went for and all participating countries agreed upon so everybody had equal opportunity. It would be better to have a global rule for everything including bat weight.

Posted by gbqdgj on (June 25, 2014, 14:23 GMT)

@Thebigboodha - how right you are. It's interesting how different bowlers have been treated differently for years. A case in point was James Kirtley who was secretly filmed on a number of different occasions and yet they could not definitively prove any straightening. This was after a match referee listened to 'his past history' and decided to report him. It is a tribute to Kirtley that he willingly remodelled his action and yet he was still subject to intense scrutiny. Compare that with any number of spinners bowling Doosra style variations, and any number of seamers who have had far more suspect actions and yet have got away with it for so long. Let's hope the ICC mean what they say when they are going enforce this. Caricketfan11111 raises exactly the right point about detecting during the match...the technology is always in place...Hawkeye uses telemetry to detect the path of a ball and can as easily be adapted to track the relative changing angle of the forearm.

Posted by Chandramouli.G on (June 25, 2014, 12:47 GMT)

After reading the last three paragraphs, i remember one match between India and Pakistan, just recently in the Asia Cup where Pakistan needed 46 off 39 when Afridi had just arrived. That was a very controversial/bizarre end when it came down to the last four balls as ESPN Cricinfo team wrote : 49.3 Ashwin to Shahid Afridi, SIX, makes room outside off and Ashwin pitches this one short. Afridi goes for a wild slog and though he gets this off the VERY BOTTOM OF THE BAT, it clears the man at the deep extra cover boundary! 49.4 Ashwin to Shahid Afridi, SIX, goes again and he has cleared the long-on boundary! Afridi has won it for Pakistan! This was OFF A LEADING EDGE, it looked like it was going to be swallowed at long-on but Afridi's power takes this over the ropes. And to make this even more memorable, he inadvertently kisses Junaid Khan on the cheek! It says "Afridi's power takes this over the ropes" Correction : It was the grounds men's work Not only this there are many more instances

Posted by Cricketfan11111 on (June 25, 2014, 12:31 GMT)

Bowling with the bent arm is not illegal. But straightening for more than 15 degrees is. Unless a technology is developed to detect the straightening during the match, policing the throwing will be difficult.

Posted by Smithie on (June 25, 2014, 11:47 GMT)

Give Umpires and Referees the authority to insist bowlers wear short sleeves if they wish to monitor questionable actions "in game". A zero cost shot across the bows of people with variable actions.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (June 25, 2014, 11:36 GMT)

The only people who need to be worried are those who are consistently breaking the rule - and those who are too stubborn to admit what is right before their eyes. Instead of being angry at administrators because your favourite bowler is now going to have to modify his action, just give thanks to them that he has been able to get away with it for so long without repercussions. I'd call that pretty generous.

Posted by ninjapintu on (June 25, 2014, 11:21 GMT)

Yes, I think they need to do something about these bats. Over the last few years, there have been too many edges going to six. Those sixes from Rohit against RCB come to mind. It is totally wrong for a batsman to be beaten and yet get maximum runs as an award.

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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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