India news September 12, 2014

Chucking is technical fault, not crime - Dravid

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'Club cricket has become a business'

Rahul Dravid believes bowlers who have been banned for suspect bowling actions are suffering from kinks, which once corrected should allow them to reintegrate with international cricket. He added that he would always give a bowler the benefit of the doubt before he passes a judgment on his action.

"Personally I don't think we should see chucking as a crime as such. It is just a technical fault that people have. So if you have a technical fault in the action, you correct that and come back. When you overstep the line, nobody says you are cheating. You say, okay, come back behind the line. And here we are saying, come back within 15 degrees [of elbow flexion] and play the game," Dravid said in an interaction with the audience after delivering the annual Dilip Sardesai Memorial Lecture.

In the past few months, several bowlers have been called up for tests by the ICC and subsequently banned if they failed to demonstrate a legal bowling action. The most notable examples have been Sri Lanka offspinner Sachithra Senanayke and his Pakistan counterpart Saeed Ajmal, arguably the best spinner in the world at the moment.

"I think the ICC has a rule in place," Dravid said. "They reviewed a lot of the old footage and they found out that the elbow bent to about 15 degrees was pretty normal and that is what everyone was doing. Glenn McGrath had a slight bend in his elbow up to 15 degrees. I am not suggesting that Glenn McGrath was chucking. They have a system in place and what I am glad about is that they are really enforcing it strictly.

"They are reviewing people, they are getting people caught. I give them the benefit of the doubt. I always give the bowler the benefit of the doubt. Murali went through every test possible at that time so you have to give him the benefit of doubt. What the ICC is doing now is they are being vigilant. What they are saying is that if once you are cleared in 2009, you can't [not] be checked again. You have got to keep monitoring, watching it closely and they see bowlers developing new types of deliveries, then why not go into the lab and have it checked."

The discussion then veered to the health of the three formats of cricket and Dravid said ODIs were being put under pressure by "meaningless games"

"I think one-day cricket is seriously struggling," he said. "I definitely think that one-day cricket without a context is struggling. When you think of one-day cricket from a point of view of Champions Trophy and the World Cup, it is relevant. But I think all the other one-day cricket should be given towards playing the Champions Trophy and the World Cup. And then you've got Test cricket and you've got the T20 format of the game. Meaningless one-day games and too many one-day games can actually be a problem and it is something that can be cut off. You should play lesser one-day cricket and play more tournaments. So Champions Trophy and World Cup, I would go for it, definitely."

Questions were also raised regarding young Indian cricketers' seriousness towards playing Tests after the team's meek surrender in the recent tour of England. Dravid, however, backed the next generation, saying he never got a sense of them not being serious about Tests during his week-long stint as a consultant with the Indian team ahead of the five-Test series.

"When people say that some of our boys don't care about Test cricket, that's completely wrong. Because all they are asking me is, 'how did you do well?'. They are not worried about a T20 game coming up. They are only interested in knowing how did we do well in England, how did we do well in Australia. Virat Kohli is asking those questions all the time. I don't think it is that they don't care. They care deeply but they were found out against a really good bowling attack on a difficult wicket. And they were not good enough in those particular Test matches. But I think they do care [about Tests] and they ask those questions."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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