January 25, 2012

Should we give the doosra a little leeway?

What if spinners were allowed to flex their arms 20 degrees while bowling?
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One midwinter English Sunday, two arresting sporting headlines - neither, pluckily, having anything whatsoever to do with f**tball. Tucked away in the bottom left corner at the front of the latest Sunday Times sports section, beneath the acres given over to "Kenny Blasts Reds" and "Dalglish threatens clear-out of 'unprofessional' players", lurked "Robinson attacks 'arrogant' England" - the Robinson in question being neither Nottinghamshire's Tim nor Sussex's Mark but Andy, the English-born coach of Scotland's rugby union side. In the top left corner, opposite "Magical Murray - Briton Storms Into Last 16 At The Aussie Open", lurked "Fanning The Flames - Trott Voices New Suspicion Over Pakistan Spinner".

As a snapshot of Blighty's sporting fancies it was nothing if not symbolic. Team games before individual, f**tball before all. As a reflection of the lengths sportsfolk will go to secure an advantage, it was just as telling.

Robinson's "attack" came a fortnight before Scotland meet - you guessed it - England in the opening match of the Six Nations championship, that annual scrap to prove who's the best in Europe but still a distant second on the planet; Trott's "suspicion" during preparations for the second Test against Pakistan. In both instances, not unnaturally, the agitators were smarting from a humbling: Scotland's last encounter with England, in October, had seen them beaten in the World Cup quarter-finals; Trott and England had just been drubbed in Dubai.

Both headlines were broadly accurate; both, as is the way of the media world, masked thin but provocative stories, stories where the headline is the story. Robinson's allegation about the arrogance of those accursed English ruckers was entirely unspecific. He used the word, yes, but resolutely declined to go a zillimetre further. Trott's "suspicion" (which wasn't exactly "new") proved to be little more than a sliver of a scintilla of a hint, albeit a politically correct one: "From what the guys are hearing… and are talking about, we can't make any accusations before the guy has been tested. The ICC have got their job to do and we trust they will be able to do it." Then he covered his tracks a bit more: "There is going to be speculation around his action… [but] it would be foolish for us every time we face him to think he's suspect."

All of which ran somewhat counter to Graeme Swann's assertion in his Saturday morning column for the Sun, to wit: "Some people are talking about [Saeed] Ajmal's action but it's not a topic of conversation in our dressing room." He has tried to bowl a doosra himself, Swann related, but couldn't do so "without bending my elbow". Meanwhile, Andy Flower was adding his ha'pworth: "I've got my own private views and talking about them here and now isn't going to help the situation."

Everyone, in other words, was steering that narrow course between libel action and the inalienable right of sportsfolk to play mind games, however ineptly. Call it the Doosra Dance. Call it the game within the game within the game. Boxing, which has always had one foot in the sham of showbiz, led the way. Stirring the pot has been part and parcel of the pre-match ritual for time almost immemorial, but as the stakes rose, so the press became more brazen; and as radio, television, internet and social media multiplied the megaphones, so the vigour and wattage rose. The philosophy became part Machiavelli, part Malcolm X: get under the opposition's skin by any means necessary. The lawyers quietened things down but the sound of sniping still reverberates. It's in the script.

Greg Chappell characterised this inner-inner game with typical succinctness long ago. On the eve of the final Test of the 1982-83 Ashes series in Sydney, where victory for the outclassed tourists would have kept the urn in English hands, captain Bob Willis, happy to kindle memories of Australia's gobsmacking collapses at Headingley and Edgbaston 18 months earlier, said he would rather Australia bat last, obviously. The riposte from his opposite number was as firm and straight and true as one of Chappell's on-drives: "That's just propaganda."

The difference in Ajmal's case is that Flower, Swann and Trott (and Matt Prior for that matter) had two other factors to contend with as they contemplated airing their views. First, they would be accusing a fellow professional of cheating, still widely considered the most dastardly of sporting crimes, even among those horrified by match-fixing. Second, by questioning Ajmal's action, or even alluding to any dubiousness, they ran the risk of being seen as whingeing Poms, whether of the Northamptonian or southern African variety. They also knew a swift but polite "no comment" would have sufficed. Swann, presumably, has some control over what goes out under his name, so he could have ignored the matter altogether. The Sun's sports editor might not have liked it but he'd have had to lump it. Instead, all three chose to fan the flames behind a veil of respectability, the better to unsettle.

WHICH LEADS US, INEVITABLY, to the bigger question. Not whether all is fair in love, war and ballgames, but whether bending the elbow beyond the permissible 15 degrees might actually be more acceptable in a spinner. To propose this, of course, should in no way be seen as a desire to see a new generation of Tony Locks wreck stumps and wreak havoc with 80mph "faster" balls, prompting victims to surmise - as Doug Insole did so volubly after being castled by the Surrey southpaw - that they could only have been run out.

In June 2009, a batch of eminent Australian spinners, including Shane Warne, Stuart MacGill, Ashley Mallett and the late Terry Jenner, gathered in Brisbane for a grandiloquently dubbed "Spin Summit". All condemned the doosra. "There was unanimous agreement that [it] should not be coached in Australia," wrote Mallett in the Adelaide Review. "I have never seen anyone actually bowl the doosra. It has to be a chuck. Until such time as the ICC declares that all manner of chucking is legal in the game of cricket I refuse to coach the doosra. All at the Spin Summit agreed." Principle was surely the cause; the only other interpretation is that they didn't want their records broken.

A couple of months earlier, by way of context, Ajmal had been reported by the umpires following an ODI against Australia in Dubai. An expert in biomechanics, however, gave his doosra the all-clear, and, so far as we know, the charge has never been repeated. Muttiah Muralitharan and Harbhajan Singh were both reported before the degree of flexibility was justly raised from 10 degrees - on the basis that just about every ball ever recorded on film would otherwise have been illegal - but not thereafter. To my knowledge no official aspersions were ever cast about the doosra wielded so wickedly by its inventor, Saqlain Mushtaq.

Should the regulations distinguish between spinners and quicks? Given that there is an appreciable gap between the intent and potential physical ramifications of a 95mph "chuck" and a 60mph one, this does not seem unreasonable

All of which would suggest: a) half a dozen degrees of flex are indiscernible to the naked eye, and b) there are oodles of people, many of them umpires, who believe not only that it is entirely possible to bowl such a ball legitimately but that it is done so with considerable regularity. In their refusal to coach it (not, one imagines, that they could so without a scary amount of homework, seldom something that comes naturally to retired luminaries), Warne et al are almost certainly doing their heirs a grave disservice.

But let's just say, strictly for the sake of argument, that Ajmal's right arm does stray fractionally beyond that prescribed limit. Should the regulations, in this respect, distinguish between spinners and quicks? Given that there is an appreciable gap between the intent and potential physical ramifications of a 95mph "chuck" and a 60mph one, this does not seem unreasonable. Why not a 15-degree leeway for one and 20 for the other? It was only a few years back, after all, that the ICC deemed such a differential - five degrees for pacemen, ten for twirlers - right and proper. Offspinners, of course, are entitled to raise another point: why, unlike their wrist-flexing brothers-in-arms and charms, should they be denied the right to bowl a wrong'un?

The sentiments of Bernard Bosanquet, proud parent of the wrong'un, ring down the ages with a deafening echo. "Poor old googly!" he lamented in the 1925 Wisden. "It has been subjected to ridicule, abuse, contempt, incredulity, and survived them all. Nowadays one cannot read an article on cricket without finding that any deficiencies […] are attributed to the influence of the googly. If the standard of bowling falls off, it is because too many cricketers devote their time to trying to master it [...] If batsmen display a marked inability to hit the ball on the offside, or anywhere in front of the wicket, and stand in apologetic attitudes before their wicket, it is said that the googly has made it impossible for them to adopt the old aggressive attitude and make the old scoring strokes. But, after all, what is the googly? It is merely a ball with an ordinary break produced by an extra-ordinary method."

So it all boils down, in essence, to the Googly Question: would you prefer the game to remain rigid and obstinate, clinging fast to traditional notions of what is far and unfair, and hence stagnate, or encourage the expansion of horizons? In other words, would we be better off with or without the doosra? You don't have to be a fully qualified Luddite to reply in the negative, but it helps.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | January 28, 2012, 20:29 GMT

    Whinge And Whine 101! None of this would have mattered if England had won BUT since they havent... 'Let The Royal Whinging & Whinning Begin'!

  • POSTED BY on | January 28, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    The moral of the story is that the Pakistani Speen Hawks knocked out the english chicks

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | January 27, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    Haha typical poms, complaining about everything when they are getting belted. Remind me of the past 20 years!

  • POSTED BY Philip_Gnana on | January 26, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    Since the implementation of the 15 degree tolerance, which was actually introduced so that the many fast bowlers we flexing their elbow/arms beyond the 10 degree limit, we have not had any monitoring or may be the ICC has not commented. Since the Champions Trophy way back in 2004, more fast bowlers have entered the scene. The flexing issues seem to only surround the spin bowlers, why? Is it not cricket to not let the most important people ie the supporters and followers know of the degrees of flexing of all bowlers? We have a Ranking System for performance. How about a Ranking System for Flexing? Ajmal's arm, we need the scientific analysis and not what the naked sees. We know what happened with Murali, what we saw was not what was actually the case. Isn't it strange that these issues only come in to focus when a team loses and not when they win? Let us put through the fast bowlers to test, shall we? Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • POSTED BY VIVz_forearm on | January 26, 2012, 22:07 GMT

    not directed @ the author but I have only this to say for the poms: same old tactic of propaganda....remember reverse swing??? its all hunky dorey to win the ashes with it but when the WWs did it was wrong...same as their football press most of them never point out the real issues of a lack of ability in this case playing spin or generally playing well in the sub-continent...remember the crashing out to the Germans in fifa 2010??? wana play like spain but dont have the players?? fatigue was the issue...long premier league season etc etc etc!!!! give me a break, if we heard you lot, there would be no reverse no doosra no googly!!! no flair!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 26, 2012, 20:26 GMT

    I feel sorry for English media and people who are calling Ajmal a "chucker" lol! Grow up! You don't know how to play quality spinners! Accept it or do whatever you can do! You can never become number 1 team! not for too long at least! Its not English team that cries..its the English media that do it.. Best of luck!

  • POSTED BY on | January 26, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    I always enjoy Rob Steen's columns and usually agree with them, I can't agree with this one though. Surely the off-spinner/left-arm orthodox bowler's 'wrong-un' was the seemingly defunct 'floater', or if not that then the arm-ball?

    I'm sorry to say it but watching Saeed Ajmal's action in slow motion the angle of his elbow bend looks well over 15 degrees, more like 30 degress or so, but the problem is if an umpire reports him they will be rounded on by Pakistan, and probably face being ostracised by the ICC (see Darrell Hair) and are likely to have their umpiring career severely curtailed. So Ajmal can go on taking wickets with a dodgy action just as Shoaib Akhtar and Murali did, as once they were reported they had already taken too many wickets and become too important to their teams for their boards to let them be banned. Instead the ICC reports small fry like Shabbir Ahmed, Shane Shillingford, Johan Botha and the Jonkman twins from the Netherlands.

  • POSTED BY amir68298 on | January 26, 2012, 17:07 GMT

    All this fuss about the doosra.. What we all fail to realize is that it is the inability of the batsman to "read it" rather than "play it". Batsmen are just not good enough to read it out of a bowlers hand. and a particular bowler in this instant. The moment they are able to to do that , they will stop all this whining about it.

  • POSTED BY on | January 26, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    The problem is that the 99% of people playing cricket aren't professional and don't have access to slow-motion cameras, the expert eye of sports scientists, or coaches who can remedy their actions. The effect of the 15 degree law (invisible to the naked eye) being announced from the top is that a generation of kids, particularly spinners without access to proper coaching, have grown up where chucking by 25 degrees plus is accepted. There are entire leagues in North America with two chuckers in each team. Even the adult pace bowlers have seen they can get away with it and no one will do anything about it. You can't have some people bowling and others chucking. It doesn't make for a fair contest.

  • POSTED BY JeffG on | January 26, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    @enigma77543 - you completely misunderstood my point. You said that batting averages are higher now due to flat pitches making batting easier. My argument is that batting isn't necessarily easier now - if it was then bowlers would be finding it harder to take wickets - they aren't, they are taking wickets more quickly. The reason why averages are increasing is because batsmen are scoring more quickly. That is surely down to batsmen adapting the techniques they learn for T20 into test cricket. I'm not the only one who thinks this - Ed Smith talks about this very point in one of his recent articles on Cricinfo

  • POSTED BY on | January 28, 2012, 20:29 GMT

    Whinge And Whine 101! None of this would have mattered if England had won BUT since they havent... 'Let The Royal Whinging & Whinning Begin'!

  • POSTED BY on | January 28, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    The moral of the story is that the Pakistani Speen Hawks knocked out the english chicks

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | January 27, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    Haha typical poms, complaining about everything when they are getting belted. Remind me of the past 20 years!

  • POSTED BY Philip_Gnana on | January 26, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    Since the implementation of the 15 degree tolerance, which was actually introduced so that the many fast bowlers we flexing their elbow/arms beyond the 10 degree limit, we have not had any monitoring or may be the ICC has not commented. Since the Champions Trophy way back in 2004, more fast bowlers have entered the scene. The flexing issues seem to only surround the spin bowlers, why? Is it not cricket to not let the most important people ie the supporters and followers know of the degrees of flexing of all bowlers? We have a Ranking System for performance. How about a Ranking System for Flexing? Ajmal's arm, we need the scientific analysis and not what the naked sees. We know what happened with Murali, what we saw was not what was actually the case. Isn't it strange that these issues only come in to focus when a team loses and not when they win? Let us put through the fast bowlers to test, shall we? Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • POSTED BY VIVz_forearm on | January 26, 2012, 22:07 GMT

    not directed @ the author but I have only this to say for the poms: same old tactic of propaganda....remember reverse swing??? its all hunky dorey to win the ashes with it but when the WWs did it was wrong...same as their football press most of them never point out the real issues of a lack of ability in this case playing spin or generally playing well in the sub-continent...remember the crashing out to the Germans in fifa 2010??? wana play like spain but dont have the players?? fatigue was the issue...long premier league season etc etc etc!!!! give me a break, if we heard you lot, there would be no reverse no doosra no googly!!! no flair!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 26, 2012, 20:26 GMT

    I feel sorry for English media and people who are calling Ajmal a "chucker" lol! Grow up! You don't know how to play quality spinners! Accept it or do whatever you can do! You can never become number 1 team! not for too long at least! Its not English team that cries..its the English media that do it.. Best of luck!

  • POSTED BY on | January 26, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    I always enjoy Rob Steen's columns and usually agree with them, I can't agree with this one though. Surely the off-spinner/left-arm orthodox bowler's 'wrong-un' was the seemingly defunct 'floater', or if not that then the arm-ball?

    I'm sorry to say it but watching Saeed Ajmal's action in slow motion the angle of his elbow bend looks well over 15 degrees, more like 30 degress or so, but the problem is if an umpire reports him they will be rounded on by Pakistan, and probably face being ostracised by the ICC (see Darrell Hair) and are likely to have their umpiring career severely curtailed. So Ajmal can go on taking wickets with a dodgy action just as Shoaib Akhtar and Murali did, as once they were reported they had already taken too many wickets and become too important to their teams for their boards to let them be banned. Instead the ICC reports small fry like Shabbir Ahmed, Shane Shillingford, Johan Botha and the Jonkman twins from the Netherlands.

  • POSTED BY amir68298 on | January 26, 2012, 17:07 GMT

    All this fuss about the doosra.. What we all fail to realize is that it is the inability of the batsman to "read it" rather than "play it". Batsmen are just not good enough to read it out of a bowlers hand. and a particular bowler in this instant. The moment they are able to to do that , they will stop all this whining about it.

  • POSTED BY on | January 26, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    The problem is that the 99% of people playing cricket aren't professional and don't have access to slow-motion cameras, the expert eye of sports scientists, or coaches who can remedy their actions. The effect of the 15 degree law (invisible to the naked eye) being announced from the top is that a generation of kids, particularly spinners without access to proper coaching, have grown up where chucking by 25 degrees plus is accepted. There are entire leagues in North America with two chuckers in each team. Even the adult pace bowlers have seen they can get away with it and no one will do anything about it. You can't have some people bowling and others chucking. It doesn't make for a fair contest.

  • POSTED BY JeffG on | January 26, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    @enigma77543 - you completely misunderstood my point. You said that batting averages are higher now due to flat pitches making batting easier. My argument is that batting isn't necessarily easier now - if it was then bowlers would be finding it harder to take wickets - they aren't, they are taking wickets more quickly. The reason why averages are increasing is because batsmen are scoring more quickly. That is surely down to batsmen adapting the techniques they learn for T20 into test cricket. I'm not the only one who thinks this - Ed Smith talks about this very point in one of his recent articles on Cricinfo

  • POSTED BY Kookaburra on | January 26, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    Excellent point Mr. Steen. Ajmal can bowl the doosra within 15 degrees. Offies should also have a wrong' un.

  • POSTED BY khanc on | January 26, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    jokerbala is exactly right on both counts. When you make it 20 degrees, won't Ajmal chuck from 25 degrees? Banning full sleeves at umpire's discretion is also a very good suggestion, unlike this -er- not very well thought out article. I'd add that a certain number of chucks would automatically ban the spinner from bowling further in the innings.

  • POSTED BY bonaku on | January 26, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    Looking from the point of game, may be we should. It will test the batsmen little more. But we should have a better mechanism to prevent throwing.

  • POSTED BY PutMarshyOn on | January 26, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    This is one law that has no detrimental effect on the game. As for selective degrees of tolerance why not allow fastr bowlers more leeway for no-balls?

    That said the odds are heavily stacked against the offie in these days of shrunken boundary sizes and jumbo bats; they deserve something from the ICC. Personally I'd like increased boundary sizes; with consideration to player safety of course; and lighter bats.

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | January 26, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    Pri Kand's post is a case in point!! (see my previous post) The first reaction is not to demonstrate that the action is legal, but to insult the person who questions it! Various English bowlers *did* develop their own doosra, but found that they could not bowl it legally SO THEY DON'T bowl it!! It is hard to get away with a suspect action on the English county circuit because the level of scrutiny is so high - one high profle bowler certainly had his Test career ended because his action was more than suspect, so he just wasn't picked. Inovation is fine, but it has to be done within the laws as defined and those laws have been defined in such a way that they should be fair to both bowlers and batsmen.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | January 26, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    @m0se, spot on, when under scrutiny you will behave yourself, when not being scrutinised you will 'bend' the rules (pardon the pun)......@Zahidsaltin, none of the bowlers you mention were ever tested in a lab with motion detectors they went back to old TV video footage shot at 25fps on video tape which can create an optical illision in the bend.

  • POSTED BY enigma77543 on | January 26, 2012, 8:39 GMT

    @mOse, why do you think that the overseers of the procedure haven't thought of the question you've raised? That's why the testing-conditions are made very stringent, the bowler is asked to bowl at the speed at which he usually bowls in matches, he's asked to bowl different lines & lengths etc so it's not as easy as you think. Moreover, put yourself in the position of someone who's been merely ACCUSED of throwing, his whole CAREER is on the line so when someone does get cleared, they're extra-cautious NOT to raise doubts again, it's not like once they've gotten cleared that they can flex as much as they want without anybody noticing because the fact is that anything beyond 15 degrees is clearly visible to naked eye; not to mention, it's impossible to "adjust" your flex by a couple of degrees here & there.

  • POSTED BY enigma77543 on | January 26, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    @Dubious, I'm NOT suggesting that any of the modern batsmen you've mentioned aren't great but the thing is that easier batting conditions tend to lessen the DIFFERENCE between "good" & "GREAT". And what I've said is verifiable fact but you'd've go DEEPER than just top-10 or whatever list, nobody who's worked with cricket-stats (as I have) will argue that batting averages have gotten better while bowling averages have suffered. @JeffG - Are you serious? By that token, T20s should be bowlers'-fest! Is it? You can't just go by strike-rates, you must see the whole picture. @YorkshirePudding - So are you claiming that you have more knowledge about human body than some of the best biomechanists in the world? The old 5 & 10 degrees rules were OUTDATED, people that laid down those rules didn't have the benefit of the kind of advanced technology that we have today, which is WAY more PRECISE so they just decided to err on the side of caution (that is, on the lower side) but now we don't need to.

  • POSTED BY JbSt on | January 26, 2012, 4:03 GMT

    THis article can only be treated as satire. The constant changing of the rules is a distraction from the game. How can you expect an umpire to determine the difference between 14º and 16º on any bowler. The initial relaxation only came about an umpire was determined to uphold the rules. If a spinner can bowl with a flexing arm, so can a fast bowler. If that means the speed is increased so be it. They way it is going, batsman will be able to nominate the type of balls that can be bowled to them.

  • POSTED BY Balumekka on | January 26, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    The solution is simple! What Ajmal should do is to under perform against England and Australia. So no one will be raising issues like this. If Eng won the first test, then this issue would have never been raised. We all should start praising Great (Ordinary according to Subcontinental standards) offspiner (with no variation), Mr. Swann. Then things will be even better!!!!!

  • POSTED BY TheLoneStranger on | January 26, 2012, 2:44 GMT

    How about reverting to the old rule: the bowler MUST deliver the ball with a straight arm? The ICC only changed to rules to accommodate the man who finished with over 800 test wickets, yet rarely ever bowled a legal delivery! How on earth are umpires supposed to determine how many degrees a bowler's arm is bent? It's an absolute nonsense!!!

  • POSTED BY jokerbala on | January 26, 2012, 1:58 GMT

    Why only 20 degrees why not 30 or 40. It should be all or none otherwise it makes no sense.You don't need cricket experts to tell you bowling a doosra needs arm bending. Icc introduced the law to appease Murali and Srilankan Board(that is why his records will never get as much weightage as Warne) and the habbit has just continued .The best way is to let umpires decide and ban full sleeves. If it appears like a chuck and umpires can see a bent arm allow them to call a Noball.

  • POSTED BY badmaash on | January 26, 2012, 1:45 GMT

    Only after the rules are relaxed will England be able to produce a doosra bowler.

  • POSTED BY m0se on | January 25, 2012, 23:18 GMT

    I have read numerous articles on doosras and bio-mechanics but I still don't understand one point: why do they assume that the bowler is not able to change the amount of degrees by how much he bends when he delivers the ball? So, if you are reported, you go and have yourself checked in a lab. But in the lab you bowl balls with less bending of the elbow, get yourself cleared and in match situations, bend considerably more to get that extra spin.

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 22:07 GMT

    Well the question is if the result of ENG-PAK test was different would anyone have raised this issue.Ajmal has been playing for a while and this is not the first time he bowled a Doosra.This tells a story about the jumbo ego of England and Australian camp.True that they have pioneered the game ,but why can't they accept that the other countries can also play good cricket and beat them .This is not an issue of Ajmal or Doosra ,it is an issue of English and Australian mentality , their superiority complex and the reluctance to accept that the others can be innovative.

  • POSTED BY ARad on | January 25, 2012, 22:03 GMT

    As others point out, there is indeed a DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FLEX and BEND. Anyone who thinks that McGRATH, WARNE, et al. bowled with ZERO DEGREE OF FLEXING don't know what they are talking about. It is unfortunate that some cricket writers/commentators from certain partisan nations do not try to educate the fans in this matter. Talking about some of these writers, once their countrymen learn to consistently bowl doosra, all this talk will stop. It happened with REVERSE SWING and it will happen with doosra.

  • POSTED BY sifter132 on | January 25, 2012, 21:40 GMT

    I don't mind the theory - but how will the on field umpires enforce this 20% law. 20% would be obvious enough to see I imagine, so will umpires be required to take geometry training to gauge angles? Otherwise, if the umpires have no on field power, then spinners could slip in balls of 25 or 30% and the umpires could only report them for next time.

  • POSTED BY Moutarde on | January 25, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    This article is a joke, right?

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    The point that needs to be made is that some people can legitimately bowl the doosra, Saqlain and Murali. Anyone who inspects Ajmal's arm will note he bends his elbow considerably when bowling the doosra appears to be sig bent maybe even 30 degrees. Murali because of his physical defect with his his shoulder/elbow can bowl doosra proven numerous times including when he put on a brace on his elbow to show he can bowl doosra without any bend at all in his elbow. Saqlain not sure how he did it, but numerous bowlers around the world are now "chucking" doosra, a few from the west indies have been called up, and I am sure there will be quite a few from the sub contintent. In time batsmen will learn to play the doosra as it is new but it is near impossible to legit bowl unless one has unbelieveable ability to rotate one's shoulder to bowl it without bending your elbow (case in point of Murali)

  • POSTED BY Zahidsaltin on | January 25, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    No need for extending the allowed bend. I would even support making it 13 degrees. Ajmal is checked twice on his doosra and both the times his bend was found to be between 9-11 degrees so no worry there. One should keep in mind that great bowlers of past including Croft, marshel and Lille were found bending it close to 13 degrees and that was one of the reasons that a new law with 15 degrees was passed.

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 17:50 GMT

    Bending the Elbow was to prevent a guy that bowls 88 miles an hour, being able to Chuck a ball 95 miles an hour at a Batsman. I din't see WHY a bowler at 50 MPH to 60 MPH should have this same law applied to him. its hard enough to get a ball to turn a SIGNIFICANT amount as it is. Might as well let them flex their arm

  • POSTED BY spence1324 on | January 25, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    No surprise that the ICC allows chucking, they do bend over backwoods to help there follow subcontinent buddy's....

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | January 25, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    Why does a debate on a topic like this always have to turn nasty immediately? As everyone should know, the power to call bowlers was taken away from umpires who now are highly constrained in the action that they can take when faced with a suspect action. It may not be beside the point that those who rock the boat often fall into hot water, hence these things tend to fester as whispering campaigns until someone is forced to act. The rules, as currently applied are designed to ensure that everyone is fairly treated. If you relax the rules for every special case soon there will be no rules left! As an England supporter, if Ajmal's action has not been reported, that's it. Unfortunately, out of context remarks get reported as minor items in the British press and then inflated out of all recognition when quoted back by outsiders and an "issue" and a grievance appear where there should be none. People have to move on and ignore such trivia. Well played Pakistan. End of story!

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | January 25, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    @DingDong420, actually when asked a direct question about Ajmals doosra, they have said its not in thier remit ot comment, Swann has basically said its an ICC decision, and Flower said he has his opinions, but wasnt going to say anything...If anything its the media having a comment on this....Personally I think that at times his doosra doesnt look quite right in regards to the amount of flex his arm has, it could be an illusion caused by the TV camera angles, who knows....What Broad got to do with it, hes not actually done anything, as for the bat checking, that was due to a rumour that Vasaline could obscure hotspot, and I beleive that there was a noise in the incident which when looking at sniko suggests that the ball was feathered agaist the edge.

  • POSTED BY Rusape on | January 25, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    "Given that there is an appreciable gap between the intent and potential physical ramifications of a 95mph "chuck" and a 60mph one, this does not seem unreasonable. " Really? The intent is to take wickets. Surely you can understand the unfair advantage in terms of changes in pace and flight (let alone being able to bowl the doosra) that flexing the elbow conveys? If a fast bowler had this action he'd have been banned ages ago, and i for one don't see why spinners should be treated differently.

  • POSTED BY DingDong420 on | January 25, 2012, 14:06 GMT

    The English / South African / Zimbabwean individuals that is galvanised under the England banner are sore losers. NO CLASS BETWEEN THEM.

    I remember Stuart Broad going to check a bat after a decision didn't go his way. If he'd checked my bat I'd have walloped him for six

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | January 25, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    where does it stop 20 degrees, 30 degrees, 40 degrees, soon they'll be pitching like baseball players. Lets not forget the only reason the change to 15 degrees was made was to accomodate 1 bowler who through a physical 'defect' appeared to flex more than the permitted 10 degrees. Though it was wrapped up in baloney, that every bowler was bending more than the permited level, based on spurious evidence from 25fps cameras 70 yrds away.

  • POSTED BY Anwaar-Sandhu on | January 25, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Murali, Harbhajan,, Ajmal, Swann............ bring anybody, SAQLAIN was the real genius, he turned the careers of many, Murali was no more than Swann without doosra and still he needed relaxation, Saqlain is uncomparable in this regard. His variations and use of crease was exceptional. He introduced doosra and no body till today can bowl it as expertly and cleanly as him WOWWW. SAQIII u was great, miss you man!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 13:20 GMT

    Bogus idea, there is no problem if bowlers can't. England don't have good spinners in their squad. They can't fight with Pakistani bowlers so why they are trying to implement such bogus things. They must have to fight or face such difficult and good spinners like Ajmal and Rehman.

  • POSTED BY Charith99 on | January 25, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    this is so funny.before the first test english batsmen said they can handle ajmal with ease but now after suffering defeat they are accusing ajmal . lol lol

  • POSTED BY WPDDESILVA on | January 25, 2012, 13:08 GMT

    If you cannot play the doosra then you can't. Stop winging about it and learn how to tackle it without labelling the bowler a chucker!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    @bestbuddy - Nice little explanation there mate, been looking for that.

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    Warne, Murali, Kumble. Saqulain, Swann, McGill, Harabjan. Given that most teams outside the subcontinent play one spinner in a team IF THAT, then these guys (including the number 1 and 2 leading wicket takers in the world) seem to be doing just fine wihout giving them more. Seamers - Limit the bouncers, no beamers, front foot no ball rule. less degrees of flexibility at the elbow,...Spinner"just go and enjoy yourself - do whever the heck you like" They used to say it was a batsmans game, but with proponents like you I think it's becoming a spinners game.

  • POSTED BY Charindra on | January 25, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    I believe Murali is the greatest bowler in the history of cricket, but it's ridiculous to extend the limits any further. 15 degrees is fine, and that is the point where a chuck would be discernible to the naked eye. The other important thing is that Murali bowled in short sleeves 90% of the time, because he had nothing to hide. Maybe the other bowlers should try that too, especially bowling in subcontinental and middle eastern temperatures!

  • POSTED BY reality_check on | January 25, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    If English batsmen were watching Ajmal's wrist and fingers instead of his elbow they would have reached the competitiveness of Bangladesh in the first test. This is only the first series out of the three in the dreaded sub-continent. Expect the English media to come up with lots of other fancy excuses and accusations.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | January 25, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    I'd rather see aggressive policing of the 15 degree rule, but with a return to uncovered wickets. Test cricket is dying because of boring high-scoring matches. Nine wickets have fallen in 2 days in Adelaide. I'd rather see 4 day Tests running Friday to Monday on uncovered wickets. The uncovered tracks would render the doosra redundant.

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    Here's something - I'm a village pie chucker - but If I flex my arm just about 20 degrees I can "throw" a ball about 95mph. I bowl about 70..if that. But a 44 year old village pie merchant like me could be sending down 95mph rockets if 20 degrees was the case. At that point it's just plain throwing - no skill - no art - just throwing. With arms like tree trunks, Tremlett would probably be topping the 110mph mark. If that's what people want then fine, but don't call it cricket any more - be honest and open about it and call it baseball.

  • POSTED BY bestbuddy on | January 25, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    People seem to be getting confused between the term 'flex' and 'bend'. Any sort of bowler may bend their arm, as close to 180 degrees as their body allows it in fact - there is no rule against this. The Change of Angle during delivery or FLEX however cannot change by more than 15 degrees. Ajmal starts with a bent arm and ends with a bent arm, with a flex proven to be less than 15 degrees by a bio-mechanics expert - so why is the issue even coming up?

  • POSTED BY Dubious on | January 25, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    enigma77543, I don't quite agree with your assertion that modern batters are making higher averages than they otherwise would have. Taking a quick look over Wikipedia's compilation of the top ten Test averages, the most recent player is Garry Sobers at number 9 (at number 10 if you include Sid Barnes at number 2--I'm not exactly sure why he's not there on the Wikipedia list, he played enough Tests to my mind). So that means players that are lauded as greats--even by players of past generations--like Ponting, Kallis, Lara and Tendulkar don't come anywhere near the batting prowess of a Paynter, Barrintong or Weekes (when I would argue they do).

  • POSTED BY JeffG on | January 25, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    @Mark00 - if batting has become ridiculously easy, why are bowling strike rates the best they've been for 100 years? That's right, bowlers nowadays are taking wickets more quickly than they've done since World War I. Surely this doesn't correlate with the theory that batting is easier now than ever? The reason why batting averages are so high now is that batsmen are scoring more quickly than they've ever done - and that's due to the effects of limited overs cricket, and specifically T20. Batsmen are now not so afraid to take chances, play unorthodox shots and running between the wickets has also improved.As for super slo-mo and "massive coaching" as an aid to batsmen, do you not think that bowlers have the same benefit? Bowlers can now study every single aspect of a batman's play long before they've ever met him on the pitch and allof his strengths and weaknesses. As for the laws on chucking - I think they are broadly ok and should probably be left alone for now.

  • POSTED BY Tigg on | January 25, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    Daft idea. Some bowlers can do it, some can't. I think the ICC need to encourage the umpires to report suss actions, and the tests need to be more stringent.

    If you can bowl the Doosra legit, brilliant. If not, practice harder or give it up.

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    Allowing too much flex for spinners and fast bowlers is just pandering to the chuckers that have emerged in the last 15-20 years. Let's give back some incentive to the talented bowlers who take the time and effort to develop skills within the rules and tradition of the game. I take no pleasure in seeing a skilled batsman dismissed by someone who has to resort to throwing the ball. For instance, I would rather see fast bowlers allowed to bowl more bouncers (given all the protective gear nowadays). I would also like to see less overs bowled in a day to give the bowlers bodies more time to handle the load. If you want to see results or more excitement, perhaps pitches should be curated by neutral groundsman who appreciate a more lively pitch rather than resorting to chucking to keep the game moving.

  • POSTED BY Johnxyz on | January 25, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    In prose terms, this is a doosra of an article - hard to read! Totally agree with the concept though and it would be insanity to bar what I consider to be one of the most exciting and exhilarating spectacles in world cricket today. And more importantly, one that has closed the gap in the dominance by bat over ball. So unless people like to watch 2 1/2 innings completed over five days, with 2000 runs scored for the loss of 10 wickets, then we need to embrace things like the doosra which at any rate, requires a tremendous amount of skill and practice to bowl.

  • POSTED BY enigma77543 on | January 25, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    I agree with Mark to the extent that batting has become TOO easy these days & too many batsmen hence averaging well beyond what they would've in years-gone-by against better bowlers & better playing conditions & that definitely needs to be looked at & we do need more helpful pitches & bouncers, etc but I would NOT allow outright throws, it's something very fundamental to the nature of this sport, changing it is like the changing the sport itself, I think 15 degrees more than enough, many biomechanics experts do agree that it's "normal" up to that point while the older rules were obsolete since people in those days didn't have the benefit of the advanced precision-technology that we've today so 15 degrees for all bowlers is ok but I wouldn't go farther than that. If a bowler can't bowl doosra within 15 degrees then he shouldn't be bowling it at all.

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    Rob rightly pointed out the real issue. When the rule was 10 degrees for fast bowlers, no one bowled a legitimate ball (the study says only ramnaresh sarwan had a flex less than that). In such a case what ICC did was right (by increasing the limit to 15). When the rules were framed the degree of bend was set at a minimal level to avoid blatant chucking of 100mph balls. They never took in to account that a doosra will evolve. However increasing it to 20 is not the right way to go about, then again a master bowler will come and bowl extraordinary ball with 21 or 22 degrees then to accomodate such a bowler we will try and bend the rules again. Instead we should allow bowlers who can bowl doosras within the limit. Very few bowlers with good flexible arms can do it well within 15 degrees, so such bowlers should be rewarded rather than increasing the over all limit.

  • POSTED BY evenflow_1990 on | January 25, 2012, 6:09 GMT

    Brilliant article. I also love the notion of the 'spin bowlers summit' or whatever it is. It was hardly representative, consisting entirely of australians, so of course they were going to be disapproving of the doosra. It would have been like holding an "Apartheid" summit held in the 1970s and attended by only white South Africans. I somehow feel that apartheid would have been given the go ahead and reconciliation "strongly disapproved."

  • POSTED BY Mark00 on | January 25, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Batting has become ridiculously easy. Super-slow motion to help pick any mystery spinner, massive coaching to disect every strategy, full-body armor, bouncer restrictions, covered pitches, massive high-tech bats that perform like catapults, etc. It's disgusting. It's no wonder we have so many 50+ averaging players of whom only one or two can play the pull shot nearly as well as half the tail-enders in the world. It's time to take cricket to the next level by making test cricket what it used to be ... a real test of mind, body and character. Tennis and ice hockey have shown us that it's not beyond the human ability to play at something moving at well over 100mph from even 30-40ft, let alone the distance between bowler and batsman. Let's have 80mph off-breaks. Let's have 120mph yorkers. It's time to legalize chucking for all bowlers.

  • POSTED BY SyedArbabAhmed on | January 25, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    Action is ok, one should not cry with chagrin, the batting technique is not ok what so ever

  • POSTED BY JohnnyRook on | January 25, 2012, 4:46 GMT

    I agree with the idea. Spinners should be allowed more bend than fast bowlers. However I think 15 degrees is already too high. May be it should be 10 degrees for fast bowlers and 15 for spinners.

  • POSTED BY Rooboy on | January 25, 2012, 4:33 GMT

    Yes, let's expand horizons! How about a mound for the bowlers, and why have any limits at all? Then we could do away with the run up and just have 'bowlers' hurl the ball at the batsmen. Obviously, you'd have to be a fully qualified Luddite if you don't agree that this is the way forward for cricket *sigh*

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  • POSTED BY Rooboy on | January 25, 2012, 4:33 GMT

    Yes, let's expand horizons! How about a mound for the bowlers, and why have any limits at all? Then we could do away with the run up and just have 'bowlers' hurl the ball at the batsmen. Obviously, you'd have to be a fully qualified Luddite if you don't agree that this is the way forward for cricket *sigh*

  • POSTED BY JohnnyRook on | January 25, 2012, 4:46 GMT

    I agree with the idea. Spinners should be allowed more bend than fast bowlers. However I think 15 degrees is already too high. May be it should be 10 degrees for fast bowlers and 15 for spinners.

  • POSTED BY SyedArbabAhmed on | January 25, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    Action is ok, one should not cry with chagrin, the batting technique is not ok what so ever

  • POSTED BY Mark00 on | January 25, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Batting has become ridiculously easy. Super-slow motion to help pick any mystery spinner, massive coaching to disect every strategy, full-body armor, bouncer restrictions, covered pitches, massive high-tech bats that perform like catapults, etc. It's disgusting. It's no wonder we have so many 50+ averaging players of whom only one or two can play the pull shot nearly as well as half the tail-enders in the world. It's time to take cricket to the next level by making test cricket what it used to be ... a real test of mind, body and character. Tennis and ice hockey have shown us that it's not beyond the human ability to play at something moving at well over 100mph from even 30-40ft, let alone the distance between bowler and batsman. Let's have 80mph off-breaks. Let's have 120mph yorkers. It's time to legalize chucking for all bowlers.

  • POSTED BY evenflow_1990 on | January 25, 2012, 6:09 GMT

    Brilliant article. I also love the notion of the 'spin bowlers summit' or whatever it is. It was hardly representative, consisting entirely of australians, so of course they were going to be disapproving of the doosra. It would have been like holding an "Apartheid" summit held in the 1970s and attended by only white South Africans. I somehow feel that apartheid would have been given the go ahead and reconciliation "strongly disapproved."

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    Rob rightly pointed out the real issue. When the rule was 10 degrees for fast bowlers, no one bowled a legitimate ball (the study says only ramnaresh sarwan had a flex less than that). In such a case what ICC did was right (by increasing the limit to 15). When the rules were framed the degree of bend was set at a minimal level to avoid blatant chucking of 100mph balls. They never took in to account that a doosra will evolve. However increasing it to 20 is not the right way to go about, then again a master bowler will come and bowl extraordinary ball with 21 or 22 degrees then to accomodate such a bowler we will try and bend the rules again. Instead we should allow bowlers who can bowl doosras within the limit. Very few bowlers with good flexible arms can do it well within 15 degrees, so such bowlers should be rewarded rather than increasing the over all limit.

  • POSTED BY enigma77543 on | January 25, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    I agree with Mark to the extent that batting has become TOO easy these days & too many batsmen hence averaging well beyond what they would've in years-gone-by against better bowlers & better playing conditions & that definitely needs to be looked at & we do need more helpful pitches & bouncers, etc but I would NOT allow outright throws, it's something very fundamental to the nature of this sport, changing it is like the changing the sport itself, I think 15 degrees more than enough, many biomechanics experts do agree that it's "normal" up to that point while the older rules were obsolete since people in those days didn't have the benefit of the advanced precision-technology that we've today so 15 degrees for all bowlers is ok but I wouldn't go farther than that. If a bowler can't bowl doosra within 15 degrees then he shouldn't be bowling it at all.

  • POSTED BY Johnxyz on | January 25, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    In prose terms, this is a doosra of an article - hard to read! Totally agree with the concept though and it would be insanity to bar what I consider to be one of the most exciting and exhilarating spectacles in world cricket today. And more importantly, one that has closed the gap in the dominance by bat over ball. So unless people like to watch 2 1/2 innings completed over five days, with 2000 runs scored for the loss of 10 wickets, then we need to embrace things like the doosra which at any rate, requires a tremendous amount of skill and practice to bowl.

  • POSTED BY on | January 25, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    Allowing too much flex for spinners and fast bowlers is just pandering to the chuckers that have emerged in the last 15-20 years. Let's give back some incentive to the talented bowlers who take the time and effort to develop skills within the rules and tradition of the game. I take no pleasure in seeing a skilled batsman dismissed by someone who has to resort to throwing the ball. For instance, I would rather see fast bowlers allowed to bowl more bouncers (given all the protective gear nowadays). I would also like to see less overs bowled in a day to give the bowlers bodies more time to handle the load. If you want to see results or more excitement, perhaps pitches should be curated by neutral groundsman who appreciate a more lively pitch rather than resorting to chucking to keep the game moving.

  • POSTED BY Tigg on | January 25, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    Daft idea. Some bowlers can do it, some can't. I think the ICC need to encourage the umpires to report suss actions, and the tests need to be more stringent.

    If you can bowl the Doosra legit, brilliant. If not, practice harder or give it up.