Punjab spinner under the scanner

Rajesh Sharma reported for suspect action

Anand Vasu

January 3, 2007

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Rajesh Sharma, the young Punjab offspinner, has been reported to the Board of Control for Cricket in India for having a suspect bowling action, Cricinfo has learned. This follows recent proactive measures taken by the BCCI to empower match officials on this issue, including a two-day workshop conducted by S Venkataraghavan and Javagal Srinath, one a former ICC umpire and match referee and another a current ICC match referee.

Sharma, it is understood, has been mentioned in separate despatches from match officials, including the match referee and the on-field umpires, to the BCCI expressing their concerns about his bowling action.

Sharma has 76 wickets from 25 matches, including a career-best 6 for 143 in the last Ranji Trophy match he played, against Maharashtra. In that match, played at Kolhapur, he bowled a mammoth 61 overs, giving umpires VN Kulkarni and Subroto Porel plenty of opportunity to closely watch his action.

So far Sharma has played a modest role in Punjab's Ranji campaign, picking up 13 wickets from five matches. He's had much more success in the Duleep Trophy earlier this season, where he topped the wicket-takers' chart, picking up 17 wickets from three matches and was a crucial factor in North Zone winning the Duleep Trophy. North Zone beat Sri Lanka A in the final, with Sharma picking up nine wickets in the match. The umpires standing in that match were Amish Saheba and Suresh Shastri.

Cricinfo has learned that one umpire initially believed that Sharma had a suspect action but was reluctant to call the bowler in a game. He expressed his concern to BCCI officials, who assured the umpire that he would have the backing of the board if he honestly believed a bowler had a problem and needed work.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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