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Should offspinners be allowed more flexion to bowl the other one?

No extra elbow room

In the wake of the call by Ramiz Raja to allow offspinners extra leeway for the doosra, we asked four experts: should more than 15 degrees of flexion be permitted for the delivery?

Interviews by Nagraj Gollapudi

May 1, 2009

Comments: 18 | Text size: A | A

Saeed Ajmal celebrates his first ODI wicket, Pakistan v India, Super Four, Asia Cup, Karachi, July 2, 2008
Saeed Ajmal (centre) was reported recently (and Johan Botha two weeks before him), raising calls for legalising room © AFP
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Erapalli Prasanna
former India offspinner
No, they should not. Then you might as well allow 30 degrees! Are you trying to make a fair delivery or bowl using unfair means? There is no room for chuckers in the game. You don't use the term "pitching" in cricket; you bowl.

Daryll Cullinan
former South Africa batsman
Specific balls take specific types of skills, and I don't see the doosra as physically threatening to batsmen, so legalise it. Bowling the doosra is a skill and it makes the game more interesting.

There are too many grey areas here at the moment. The thing with the doosra is not whether the guy's elbow is bent or not - if he bends his arm, it is going to be a big giveaway to the batsman. The element of surprise is lost. The subtlety in how the bowler can disguise his doosra is the key, and not the flexing of his elbow.

Terry Jenner
former Australia legspinner
Absolutely not. Why should we bend the rules for something that is not legal? If Geoff Boycott had a bat in his hand, he wouldn't want the bowler to be given any extra advantage.

Do you know how many blokes there are out there at the moment [who bowl the doosra]? Very few. What do you want to do, open the floodgates? Why should we change the laws to accommodate just one delivery? Why can't we say it is all right to go 20 degrees to bowl a bouncer?

Here, I would like to draw comparison with the legspinner's flipper. The flipper is such a ball that there have been very few successful exponents of it - Richie Benaud, Bruce Dooland and Shane Warne to name a few [in Australia]. It is a legitimate skill, where the arm is dead straight. It is a skill of the fingers and the wrist: spin bowling has always been the skill of the fingers and the wrist.

Saqlain Mushtaq bowled the doosra cleanly - he never spun it like a legbreak. His doosra deviated off the seam. He delivered it with a side-on action and he released it with his palm upwards, while most now have got their back of the hands towards the batsman.

Greg Matthews
former Australia offspinner
It's cheating. There are too many chuckers in the game. The 15-degree rule just allows cheating and chucking.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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Posted by Bhattu on (May 8, 2009, 10:39 GMT)

15 degrees, is already 15 degrees too many.

Posted by omeista on (May 5, 2009, 6:29 GMT)

Being a kiwi, it is difficult for me to imagine anyone taking 700 wickets anyway. I think it would be completely unreasonably to change the rule for a specific delivery and woluld give the ICC, even less legs to stand on when it comes to illegal actions.

Posted by PottedLambShanks on (May 4, 2009, 20:54 GMT)

I think a lot of the Sri Lankan, Pakistani and Indian fans who support the idea of a rule change should ask themselves one simple question: If it had been an English spinner who took 700 wickets with a doosra, would you be demanding the same things as you are now?

Posted by TellingRF on (May 4, 2009, 14:08 GMT)

PradeepR, it was a test carried-out by Channel 4 in England (If I remember right) by using high speed cameras & sophisticated software. This was during the ICC championship in England- about three years ago. The results were not Official, but showed that something like 96% of the bowlers in the tournament straightened their elbows more than 10 degrees. (By the way, bending your elbow is not chucking unless you straighten it.) That's when it was reported that McGrath, Lee & Gillespie were between 12-14 degrees. I read it in the Print (& probably on Cricinfo as well). These tests were under Match conditions. I don't know how they compare with full Bio-Mechanical Tests in the Lab. Must have had some merit because the response was swift. Further to my argument, only those suspected of illegal actions have been subjected to full Bio-Mechanical Testing. Why not the so called "Good Bowlers" ???? Wouldn't that help differentiate the Good from the Bad ????

Posted by prakhar1 on (May 4, 2009, 14:04 GMT)

py0lb, if you want to go watch a sport that you can bend your elbows in, go watch baseball. Keeping a straight arm is a skill that makes cricket what it is. Otherwise it would just be baseball with big bats. I think 15ยบ is the max that should be allowed. Any more and you shouldn't be allowed to bowl. Period

Posted by PradeepR on (May 4, 2009, 10:06 GMT)

I think no bent elbow bowling should be allowed and the 15-degree rule was a mistake. If what TellingRF mentioned is true and McGrath, Lee, & Gillespie were also bowling with a bent elbow, the ICC should select a group of fast bowlers and an equal number of spin bowlers who we think are not chucking, take an average of the bent elbows if any and if everyone or a majority of them are bending the elbow, modify the rule to allow the bent elbow to that average extent or if most of them are not chucking, ban all the bowlers who are bending their elbows even if it by a degree or two.

TellingRF: Could you please tell us where could we get the results for McGrath and Gillespie?

Posted by Celticknife on (May 2, 2009, 5:52 GMT)

I'm sorry but this entire 15 degree rule is ridiculous. Adhering to a strict number like that makes NO practical difference to the batsman, trying to claim that even 20 degrees of elbow bend is "chucking" is absolutely ridiculous.

Batsman are allowed to do whatever they like at the crease, just look at Shiv Chanderpaul - his technique is far, far more unconventional than a few degrees extra elbow bend to bowl a spinning ball the other way.

As has already been said, batsmen don't have to bat in an textbook stance or risk being banned, and don't have to hit with straight arms or even face forward - it's insulting and a real blow to cricket's credibility as a competitive sport to suggest that bowlers should not be considered on a case by case basis either.

Let's use Johan Botha as an example, the minute difference between his doosra and the legal amount is hardly threatening to set the world of cricket alight - it's not like his doosra is going to turn a mile even on a minefield.

Posted by IlMagnifico on (May 2, 2009, 5:02 GMT)

If you want to give leeway to doosra, I have another candidate -- the goTii ball. Here's how you bowl it. You stand with both feet on the popping crease, toes facing the batsman. Than you raise your bowling arm up and throw, excuse me, bowl the ball like a marble 6 stumps outside off. With enough skill, the ball will turn clean across the batsman and clear the leg stump by 3 stump width. It's a clever ball. Really charming. Very rare. Not threatening to the batter at all. Let's allow 90 degree inflexion and legalize the goTii ball. What? You say it's not right? Really?

Posted by TellingRF on (May 2, 2009, 3:53 GMT)

Boonyarmy, the Rule was changed when it was shown that McGrath, Lee & Gillespie were regularly straightening the elbow between 12-14 degrees. Not on one particular delivery. So if they kept the rule at 10 degrees, only Murali's doosra would have been illegal while Australia would have lost all their fast bowlers. Don't be naiive to think that it was done for Murali. However, the rule should not be changed for anyone or any delivery. But the proper way to set the rule would be to measure all (or a fair group of) bowlers and see what is humanly possible. Otherwise, innocent people are going to be called cheats and some are going to be called greats because they play(ed) for a certain country. Remember Murali being no balled in '95 when he was bowling Warne-like Leg breaks, and by the Head Umpire???

Posted by Boonys_army on (May 1, 2009, 16:54 GMT)

They changed the rules to allow Murali to bowl and look what happened; the records of cricket are forever tainted. It's time everyone learned to not listen to Boycott, he'll say anything to get his name in print. Now it seems he's getting even more desperate, this suggestion is a joke.

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