May 11, 2003

Lawson's action reported to ICC

Wisden CricInfo staff

An astonishing week of success for Jermaine Lawson may be about to turn sour, after it was confirmed that he is to be reported to the ICC for a suspect bowling action.

Lawson, 21, took a career-best 7 for 78 - the best figures in a Test in Antigua - as Australia were bowled out for 240 in their first innings on Friday. That effort followed swiftly on from his hat-trick in the closing stages of the third Test in Barbados, and he had been consistently recording bowling speeds in excess of 90mph.

But he was unable to take the field on the third day of the Test after suffering a back strain, and the match referee, Mike Procter was asked to take a closer look at his action, which like that of Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar, appears to involve a certain degree of hyper-extension. The ICC requested footage of his action after the Barbados Test but this had not been followed up.

Lawson will not be suspended immediately, but instead placed on stage one which requires him to work alongside specialist advisors to be appointed by his home board. A human movement specialist appointed by the ICC will review his action during a six-week period.

If, after that period, Lawson is reported again, he will enter stage two of the procedure which can lead to a ban of up to a year, or until the ICC's Bowling Review Group (BRG) is satisfied he has corrected his action.

Australian cricket writers were quick to question Lawson's action. In the Sydney Morning Herald Peter Roebuck wrote that "the raggedness of his action presented the game's authorities with a challenge they do not want, but simply cannot ignore". He continued: "Deterioration was evident whenever the bouncer was attempted."

Trevor Marshallsea, also writing in the Sydney Morning Herald agreed with his colleague's view. "The pity is while Lawson has attracted suspicion throughout the series, the issue has only become a public controversy after his seven-wicket haul, no doubt raising allegations that Australians, who themselves have had Brett Lee go through a chucking scandal, are wont to deride an opponent's action only when he is succeeding against them," Marshallsea wrote. "The timing of the issue, however, should be of little consequence compared with the crux of the matter - the bowler's action."

Roebuck similarly feared that the allegations could arouse accusations of double standards, but he insisted that was not the case. "No one need get upset about this suggestion," he insisted. "Several bowlers, most of them spinners, have been dealt with in this way and most have returned with the problems ironed out."