July 13, 2006

ICC dealing with suspect bowlers more effectively than ever

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ICC General Manager - Cricket David Richardson said the ICC is dealing with the issue of bowlers with suspect actions more effectively than ever before.

The current regulations, in place since March 2005, provide a scientific basis for judging a player's action while at the same time recognizing the reality that almost all bowlers are likely to straighten their arm to some extent during delivery.

"The regulations are based on the views of an expert panel of former players including Angus Fraser, Michael Holding and Tony Lewis - the current Chairman of the MCC's Cricket Committee," said Mr Richardson.

"This group studied the research of prominent bio-mechanists Professor Bruce Elliot, Dr Paul Hurrion and Mr Marc Portus and the scientific evidence they were presented with was overwhelming.

"The facts are that some bowlers, even those never suspected of having flawed actions, were found likely to be straightening their arms by 11 or 12 degrees.

"And at the same time, some bowlers that may appear to be throwing may be hyper-extending or bowl with permanently bent elbows.

"Under a strict interpretation of the Law they were breaking the rules but if we ruled out every bowler that did that then there would be no bowlers left.

"The game needed to deal with that reality and the current regulations do just that.

"What they do is take the pressure off umpires because it is now no longer one person's view of whether or not a bowler has an illegal action. It is something that can be proved scientifically and the assessment is independent and not partisan.

"At the same time the umpire retains the right to call a bowler for throwing and the first judgment he makes is still based on his instincts after viewing an action with the naked eye," he added.

The regulations include a 15 degree level of tolerance in elbow extension for all bowlers during delivery, which was identified by the panel of experts as the point after which the bend is likely to become visible to the naked eye.

Five senior international bowlers have been reported under the new process - Harbhajan Singh of India, Pakistan's Shabbir Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, Jermaine Lawson of the West Indies and Johan Botha of South Africa.

Shabbir Ahmed is currently serving a one year suspension after being found to have a flawed action twice within a two year period.

The regulations were also applied at this year's ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup in Sri Lanka. 12 players were identified with potentially flawed actions and are not permitted to bowl again in international matches until they undergo remedial action and have proved their actions to be within the legal limits.

Mr Richardson was responding to comments made by former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe during the MCC's Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's on Tuesday evening.

During his lecture, Mr Crowe also claimed Test cricket was being undermined by the continued presence of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Mr Richardson commented: "Bangladesh has taken time to adjust to the demands of Test cricket but that mirrors the experience of every side that has stepped up to the top level.

"Bangladesh is a cricket-crazy country and has shown encouraging signs of development and, given time, we fully expect it to become more and more competitive at Test level.

"Zimbabwe has already stepped back from its Test commitments to allow itself time to regroup and we are keen to help it in that process in any way we can."