England news November 12, 2014

Moeen chucks out the doosra

Moeen Ali will no longer attempt to bowl the doosra for fear of being reported for a suspect action.

Moeen was picked for England partly because of his ability - so rare in England - to bowl the delivery. And, so subtle was his change of action, that almost nobody noticed when he unveiled it in international cricket during the Headingley Test against Sri Lanka.

But rather than risk incurring the wrath of match officials who have reported a coterie of offspinners in recent months, Moeen has decided to abandon the delivery.

"I won't bowl it," Moeen said. "A lot of people and experts are saying you have to bend your arm to bowl it. I don't think you do, but it is a tough one and I don't want to risk not playing for England because of it.

"It is a shame. Personally I think it is a great skill to be able to spin the ball both ways as an offspinner. I always felt the doosra was a great innovation."

While Moeen made a fine start to his international career with 19 wickets in the Test series against India, he may well find conditions in Australia, where the majority of the World Cup will be played, far less helpful. With that in mind, the ability to produce a ball that turns away from right-hand batsman could have proved priceless.

"With one fielder extra coming up, it's very tough to bowl offspin in ODI cricket," Moeen said. "I think there was a period where offspinners felt they needed a doosra and everyone was bowling it. And because of that, there were some people with some different actions trying it.

"I'm definitely more reluctant to bowl it. You can see that 16 first-class players have been banned in Pakistan because of their actions. I don't think I will bowl it in the World Cup. I don't want to risk not playing for England.

"I haven't spoken to anyone at the ECB about it. It is my decision. I was reluctant anyway because I don't bowl it as well as the rest of the guys doing it [in international cricket] but definitely I won't bowl it because of the scrutiny around the delivery. Besides, I had some success with offspin against India and that is another reason you won't see me do it. At the moment I don't feel that I need it."

At the forefront of Moeen's mind is the suspension of his friend and mentor Saeed Ajaml. Ajmal had spent many hours while playing with Moeen as an overseas player at Worcestershire teaching him how to bowl the doosra and Moeen's father, Munir Ali, is in the process of laying a net in the family garden in order to allow his son the chance to practise more often.

But with the ICC clearly determined to crack down on illegal actions and some doubt as to the legality of the doosra since that decision, Moeen has pre-empted any possible trouble. While some will rejoice at the news - many never accepted the legality of the delivery - others will find the game a little less colourful and a little less entertaining. Batsmen, certainly, will not be complaining.

Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, is the title sponsor of Test match cricket in England. Visit investec.co.uk/cricket or follow us @InvestecCricket

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments