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March 20, 2005
Harbhajan Singh has been reported for a suspected illegal bowling action. Harbhajan's doosra, the delivery that leaves the right-handed batsmen, was called into question by the match officials after India romped to a 195-run victory in the second Test against Pakistan at Kolkata.
"It was noticeable to the umpires and me," Chris Broad, the match referee, told Reuters, "that there was an apparent change in action when bowling [the doosra] between the first innings of the match, when no concerns were raised, and the second, which then prompted the report to be made,"
It was a sudden change in perception after the second day's play, when Broad was satisfied with Harbhajan's doosra. "I watched him bowl today, and to me his action was normal," Broad told The Telegraph, a Kolkata based daily. However, he went on to add a caveat: "I'm happy with his action today, but it doesn't mean he can't be cautioned tomorrow."
Harbhajan, 24, who took 4 for 145 in that match, is the first bowler to be reported for a suspected illegal bowling action since the ICC's new regulations came into effect on March 1. He was cleared earlier this month after being reported, again by Broad, for bowling his doosra, during the second Test against Bangladesh at Chittagong in December, when he underwent work with Bruce Elliot, the Australian bio-mechanics expert. Harbhajan was also reported for a suspect action in 1998 but was subsequently cleared.
He is feeling frustrated that his action is being repeatedly questioned. "I personally feel disappointed at the way they have been handling my case," he told the New Delhi Television (NDTV) channel. "After one match, again and again the same complaint. I went to Australia and cleared the test, but what is the point. If there was something wrong with my action, it would have come out in the [Elliott] report."
But Harbhajan says he was ready to undergo the process all over again if it would clear his name. "It's up to the Indian board now. I'll do whatever the board wants me to."
He will now undergo an independent review process under the central control of the ICC, which will include bio-mechanical testing, following the report compiled by Broad and the match umpires, Darrell Hair, Steve Bucknor and Arani Jayaprakash. This will be completed within 21 days, and Singh is free to play for India during this time. If he is reported twice within two years and is found to have an illegal action, he could be suspended. But there is a provision which allows the bowler to play without bowling the problematic delivery.
Under the new regulations, the tolerance limit - for straightening of the arm - for all bowlers has been set at 15 degrees, which studies have shown is the degree at which the naked eye can make out excessive straightening. The changes were suggested by an expert panel chaired by Sunil Gavaskar, the former Indian captain.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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