August 21, 2014

Cricket cannot bend rules to accommodate chuckers

Maintaining a healthy balance between bat and ball does not mean the authorities must give those with dodgy actions leeway
35

Bowlers are under greater scrutiny nowadays and the umpires need to be applauded for keeping their eyes open © Getty Images

After 200 years of the evolution of our great game, chucking has moved from being cricket's Achilles heel to being a nasty cancer that threatens to wipe out the essence of the sport.

Throwing the ball instead of bowling it is a cricketing crime. In baseball, you can throw, as in javelin, but in cricket it is written into the fabric of the game's core - to bowl with a straight arm, and that's why throwing or chucking must be punished. To not bowl the ball is not cricket.

Yet we have heard in recent times that for the last 200 years we have all got it wrong. We have heard from authorities, who have the assistance of the latest technology, that everyone, with the very occasional exception, has been throwing the ball with a bent arm all along.

The infamous survey, done in 2004, during a sanctioned ICC limited-overs tournament, announced that only one cricketer, Ramnaresh Sarwan, bowled the ball properly, that he alone did not straighten his arm when bowling a given ball. Every other cricketer targeted in that tournament was deemed to have thrown the ball and straightened his arm to some extent.

According to the findings, all bowlers broke the laws of the game as we knew them then. If we are to use that as the standard, then everyone, with the exception of the odd Sarwan, going back to when cricket began, was a dirty thrower too, including me. With these astonishing findings, thousands of bowlers were assumed to be breaking the rules, and yet no one knew it. Until 2004. Until one Sarwan showed them all up. I was wrong all along. It was Sarwan's fault.

To get it so wrong for so long, for two centuries in fact, is inexcusable, inexplicable. Lawyers got a sniff of what was to come. Quickly the authorities ran to fix the problem. Going by the word of a bunch of biomechanics researchers at a university in Perth, they moved in with the new rules: a spin bowler could bowl with five degrees of straightening, medium-pacers 7.5, and fast bowlers could let rip with ten degrees.

That quickly proved to be misguided with further testing. Then not long after that, when the doosra came alive and was identified as a problem, they settled for 15 degrees, to fit what the naked eye could pick up, supposedly. It was a beautiful marriage between the lawmakers, the lawbreakers, the law-testers and the lawyers. Thank god they all moved fast and so cleverly, and for the good of the game too, redeeming the failings of the eternal past!

Yeah, right.

In the last few months, the authorities have stirred and moved again. Yet this time it's extremely encouraging. They have started to notice a trend around the world: that more and more bowlers are trying to become mystery spinners, and are, to the naked eye, throwing beyond the 15-degree law clearly set down. This annoying affliction is fast becoming a real, deadly serious problem.

It has been said that these men who are being questioned are "good for the game", for the countries they play for, for their enthusiasm and the entertainment they provide

Thankfully, instead of doing what they did last time, by simply moving it up in five-degree increments to, say, 20 degrees to accommodate the culprits, they have decided to pull in these lawbreakers and take them in for questioning. They are backing the umpire's report that a rule has been broken, and the offenders have been served notice.

Fair and right.

Yet we read that chucking is a good thing for it evens up the badly needed balance between bat and ball. Why does a balance need to be contrived? Two wrongs do not make a right. Doesn't a sport find its own identity through natural evolution? Don't we often see that when the batting finds a way, the bowling will respond honestly and appropriately in time, and vice-versa?

In Test cricket, batting averages have only improved a little, and due mainly to the over-preparation of pitches to ensure they last five days. When the playing surface is properly prepared, providing something for everyone, then we have the balance we are searching for.

One-day cricket has the worst balance of the formats, for the boundaries are brought in and the Powerplays give the batting side another kickstart before the death overs. These rules are ridiculous. They should be abandoned to provide a better balance. By their existence they encourage the notion of allowing bowlers to change the very premise of bowling in order to counter a set of playing conditions set down by idiots acting as administrators. We know what T20 sets out to do, to entertain the frenzied crowd with big hitting, but Test cricket is resilient at providing a balance on a regular basis, if the playing conditions are fair for all.

It has also been said that these men who are being questioned are "good for the game", for the countries they play for, for their enthusiasm and for the entertainment they provide. No doubting that, but what about those hundreds of young people wanting to play cricket professionally who are being overtaken by virtue of not being able to bend and straighten their arms to advantage?

Sadly, just when the umpires are showing guts to act appropriately, it reads like we should encourage bowlers to continue throwing, to hell with the integrity of the art of bowling, and to hell with Sarwan and a few legspinners who can't throw even if they tried.

If I were to use this warped notion as an analogy in society, that it is a good thing to push and bend the rules to accommodate those who are "good for the game" and for the supposed "balance" within it, life at home and on the streets would be chaotic.

It's becoming chaotic on the playing fields, and soon labs around the world and the cricketing jails will be filling up. Why on earth would we want this scenario? How can we try to be so diligent in society when an unfair and wrongful advantage is taken, and yet be so lenient in a game that was always built on a "clean" action?

Test cricket is an honour and a privilege granted to those who are the best in their country, on the world stage, no matter what. And when they play they must play by the rules, with a responsibility to set the best example where possible. The rules must be consistent for all comers. Surely?

Bowling is all about intent. The bowler sets the ball in motion. His intent is to dismiss the batsman he is bowling to. If that intent shifts to exploiting an advantage based on a fragile law, then the integrity is lost. All over the world, from school nets to professional academies, the new talk and work are about blatantly straightening the arm all the way to 15 degrees, to provide mystery to bowling by developing new deliveries, in particular the doosra.

The doosra is an aberration; its intent is clear, the execution is plainly dodgy. It turns an offspinner into two bowlers who can dramatically spin the ball both ways. That begins to dramatically change the balance of a team.

For goodness sake, let us uphold the integrity of Test cricket by allowing the best players the chance to play and operate without an additional advantage over the rest. Why do you think there is this constant private whispering and disgruntlement around throwing in cricket amongst peers? Everyone I ask face to face about chucking says the same thing, in quiet tones: that they despise the chucking epidemic that is ravaging the globe.

Finally, the authorities are rightly policing the lawbreakers, warning or booking them for flagrant cricketing crimes, sending them to be properly tested in labs worldwide, and in some cases, to be tested again and again. It's healthy and it's a positive example of cricket doing its thing honestly and transparently.

Don't be surprised, though, if soon there will be a call to come out for a move to 20 degrees, to continue the "balancing act", to keep these players involved who are apparently good for the game over others. If the authorities succumb to it, then the merry-go-round will start all over again.

In the meantime, let's congratulate those courageous umpires and match referees who are calling on bowlers to stop chucking past the rule stipulated, and start bowling properly again, as the game has always demanded.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s and early '90s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 22, 2014, 22:10 GMT

    I must say,you had a bit of an off day Mr.Crowe. Doosra is an abberation? Really? What you should have talked about is how every law in the game has been tweaked except for the length of the pitch(which Dean Jones expects is next in line) and how privileges have been taken away from the fielding sides across the century. Bowlers should be allowed to bowl more bouncers and bowl bouncers targeting whatever part of the batsman's body they wish. I believe there was a time when the fielding side was allowed to change the ball after every 200 runs scored if I am not mistaken.

  • KishoreSharma on August 22, 2014, 2:27 GMT

    Surely, the fact that umpires are far more likely to give batsmen out LBW on th front foot, than the were in the old days before Hawkeye, has restored a lot of balance between bat and ball. That, together with the advent of reverse swing in the 1990s, may have tipped power back to the bowlers. Indeed, if you notice the number of tests finishing in under five days, I am not sure there is much evidence of an imbalance in favor of batsmen.

  • Archerthom on August 21, 2014, 22:58 GMT

    "The doosra is an aberration... It turns an offspinner into two bowlers who can dramatically spin the ball both ways". I'm afraid this makes no sense: if being able to turn the ball two ways with a single action (rotation of the hand) is wrong, then what of fast bowlers who can make the ball swing both ways, or master reverse and contrast swing (never mind bowling cutters and slower balls)?

    What are we to make of the legspinner who turns his wrist to bowl backspinners, legbreaks, topspinners and googlies? How about the flipper, flicked out of the front of the hand with a finger spin action?

    To the best of my knowledge, the bowler only has to announce his bowling arm and which side of the wicket he intends to bowl.

    Yes, many bowlers (myself included) cannot bowl a doosra legally, but this does not mean that those who can should be denied it. The important thing is that there is one rule for all, consistently enforced.

  • 12thUmpire on August 21, 2014, 21:39 GMT

    The contest between bat and ball can be made fair if you make Broad the bat inspector and Warner the ball inspector, for every game of course ...

  • on August 21, 2014, 21:15 GMT

    Ban any straightening. Even when umpires report suspect actions, the wickets taken stand.

  • FieryFerg on August 21, 2014, 21:12 GMT

    While I agree with the sentiment of the article and am glad that the ICC are finally cracking down, using the 2004 report as the basis for it is flawed. The bend detected in most bowlers, especially the quicker ones, was not an attempt at throwing but a natural hyperextension of the joint. Place a weight at the end of a 2-part lever with an elbow-type joint in the centre and rotate at high speed - this will always be the result. Add in the wrist flick that is involved in most types of delivery and this is inevitable. As stated though, the correlation with what's visible to the naked eye is crucial. Most of those reported recently had actins that were certainly dubious when viewed in real-time.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 21, 2014, 20:54 GMT

    THere are so many comments here that are talking about a bend in the arm, they really should read the article and the relevant law. There is nothing illegal bowling with with a bent arm, what is illegal is the straightening the arm beyond 15 degrees. Case in point Murali, he bowled with a bent arm, and could not straighten it so he was able to bowl within the 15 degrees of flex that was created. there are bowlers though that Straighten more than 15 degrees.

    The problem is identifing it in a live game as there are so many things moving and rotating that its hard to detect the flex. In a sterile none game when you are being monitored it is easier to remove this flex, as there is no pressure or worries abut the batsman at the other end.

  • Madpashcrickers on August 21, 2014, 20:54 GMT

    To state the obvious, the eye has been able to detect a throw for two hundred years, there isn't really any need for technology to detect it as well. Technology is more for political reasons to remove the heat from the on-field umpires if they no-ball a thrower during the game. However, the same as sledging, it would be healthier for the game in many respects if the authority of the umpires was restored to have immediate jurisdiction for stopping throwing or sledging during the game. Certainly at test level where the umpires are of neutral nationalities there shouldn't be any question of a team levelling a credible accusation of bias at the umpires.

  • kev_26 on August 21, 2014, 19:02 GMT

    You produce a pitch that maintains the balance between bat and ball. Trent Bridge was all wrong. Nowt wrong with the rest though.

  • Englishmanabroad on August 21, 2014, 18:40 GMT

    For 99.99% of deliveries there is no need for hi-tech to determine legality. But we all recognize that feeling in the stomach, when a bowler is bending their arm on delivery, even at normal speed.

  • on August 22, 2014, 22:10 GMT

    I must say,you had a bit of an off day Mr.Crowe. Doosra is an abberation? Really? What you should have talked about is how every law in the game has been tweaked except for the length of the pitch(which Dean Jones expects is next in line) and how privileges have been taken away from the fielding sides across the century. Bowlers should be allowed to bowl more bouncers and bowl bouncers targeting whatever part of the batsman's body they wish. I believe there was a time when the fielding side was allowed to change the ball after every 200 runs scored if I am not mistaken.

  • KishoreSharma on August 22, 2014, 2:27 GMT

    Surely, the fact that umpires are far more likely to give batsmen out LBW on th front foot, than the were in the old days before Hawkeye, has restored a lot of balance between bat and ball. That, together with the advent of reverse swing in the 1990s, may have tipped power back to the bowlers. Indeed, if you notice the number of tests finishing in under five days, I am not sure there is much evidence of an imbalance in favor of batsmen.

  • Archerthom on August 21, 2014, 22:58 GMT

    "The doosra is an aberration... It turns an offspinner into two bowlers who can dramatically spin the ball both ways". I'm afraid this makes no sense: if being able to turn the ball two ways with a single action (rotation of the hand) is wrong, then what of fast bowlers who can make the ball swing both ways, or master reverse and contrast swing (never mind bowling cutters and slower balls)?

    What are we to make of the legspinner who turns his wrist to bowl backspinners, legbreaks, topspinners and googlies? How about the flipper, flicked out of the front of the hand with a finger spin action?

    To the best of my knowledge, the bowler only has to announce his bowling arm and which side of the wicket he intends to bowl.

    Yes, many bowlers (myself included) cannot bowl a doosra legally, but this does not mean that those who can should be denied it. The important thing is that there is one rule for all, consistently enforced.

  • 12thUmpire on August 21, 2014, 21:39 GMT

    The contest between bat and ball can be made fair if you make Broad the bat inspector and Warner the ball inspector, for every game of course ...

  • on August 21, 2014, 21:15 GMT

    Ban any straightening. Even when umpires report suspect actions, the wickets taken stand.

  • FieryFerg on August 21, 2014, 21:12 GMT

    While I agree with the sentiment of the article and am glad that the ICC are finally cracking down, using the 2004 report as the basis for it is flawed. The bend detected in most bowlers, especially the quicker ones, was not an attempt at throwing but a natural hyperextension of the joint. Place a weight at the end of a 2-part lever with an elbow-type joint in the centre and rotate at high speed - this will always be the result. Add in the wrist flick that is involved in most types of delivery and this is inevitable. As stated though, the correlation with what's visible to the naked eye is crucial. Most of those reported recently had actins that were certainly dubious when viewed in real-time.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 21, 2014, 20:54 GMT

    THere are so many comments here that are talking about a bend in the arm, they really should read the article and the relevant law. There is nothing illegal bowling with with a bent arm, what is illegal is the straightening the arm beyond 15 degrees. Case in point Murali, he bowled with a bent arm, and could not straighten it so he was able to bowl within the 15 degrees of flex that was created. there are bowlers though that Straighten more than 15 degrees.

    The problem is identifing it in a live game as there are so many things moving and rotating that its hard to detect the flex. In a sterile none game when you are being monitored it is easier to remove this flex, as there is no pressure or worries abut the batsman at the other end.

  • Madpashcrickers on August 21, 2014, 20:54 GMT

    To state the obvious, the eye has been able to detect a throw for two hundred years, there isn't really any need for technology to detect it as well. Technology is more for political reasons to remove the heat from the on-field umpires if they no-ball a thrower during the game. However, the same as sledging, it would be healthier for the game in many respects if the authority of the umpires was restored to have immediate jurisdiction for stopping throwing or sledging during the game. Certainly at test level where the umpires are of neutral nationalities there shouldn't be any question of a team levelling a credible accusation of bias at the umpires.

  • kev_26 on August 21, 2014, 19:02 GMT

    You produce a pitch that maintains the balance between bat and ball. Trent Bridge was all wrong. Nowt wrong with the rest though.

  • Englishmanabroad on August 21, 2014, 18:40 GMT

    For 99.99% of deliveries there is no need for hi-tech to determine legality. But we all recognize that feeling in the stomach, when a bowler is bending their arm on delivery, even at normal speed.

  • rajcricketmax on August 21, 2014, 17:37 GMT

    @Asad Aslam It is not about an off-spinner bowler only being able to bowl an off-spin delivery but rather that nobody should be able to get away with not conforming to the rules of the game, which is by bowling an illegitimate delivery.

    The Umpires are there to make the game fair, so it would be part of their duty to take action if there is a cause for concern of the legitimacy of somebody's bowling action.

    Swinging of the ball and Reverse hitting has always never been made illegal by the laws of cricket unlike the action of straightening the arm. So the Batsmen are just exercising their right, which gains them a considered advantage but within the rules of the game. Bowlers can also vary within the rules of the game.

    Although, rules do change over time and it's a debate to what powers should be allowed and what restrictions should be placed in all areas of the game with the switch hit and arm straightening being the hot topics behind your final point; the in-game decision making.

  • malepas on August 21, 2014, 17:30 GMT

    I think Mr Crowe is again on a wrong bandwagon, nobody says bowlers should and can bowl with a bend arms but the main issue is that 15 degree rule applied due to some bowlers who have cognitive in joints of their arms can't help but to bend their arm a bit to bowl a ball, what Mr Crowe is arguing that nobody should allow to bowl with even a slight bend in arm even he/she physically unable to do it. It is a very strange incomprehensive argument.

  • on August 21, 2014, 17:16 GMT

    I maybe wrong but the 15degree rule came when it was agreed that straightening from less than that is hard for umpires to pick up with naked eye. If the umpires feel that a bowler is flexing the arm while bowling, they should call it a no ball. it is upto the player to sort out his action

  • mzm149 on August 21, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    @dinosaurs, @md111, @BigMachine:

    My former comment was in response to:

    "The doosra is an aberration; its intent is clear, the execution is plainly dodgy. It turns an offspinner into two bowlers who can dramatically spin the ball both ways. That begins to dramatically change the balance of a team."

    Don't call the Doosra an aberration itself due to some violators.

  • TheBigBoodha on August 21, 2014, 13:59 GMT

    My sentiments exactly, Mr Crowe. You are right that the game as we know it will be irrevocably changed for the worse if this is not nipped in the bud. OK, it's not so much a bud as a sapling. But there are currently some very successful bowlers who are basically ten degrees away from all-out hoiking it at the batsman. Just a little more leeway and the entire art of bowling will be lost. Who is going to want to keep the arm straight when you can just throw it? The other factor is, as Crowe points out, there are just so many of us who are totally peed off about this, and especially being told to shut up, and being accused of all kinds of crimes simply for wanting throwing to be kept out of the game. How did it ever get to this?!

  • Dulanz on August 21, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    We haven't had technology to figure out the degree of bending for all most all this 200 years. So who the hell knows how many bowlers bowled with a correct action and how many were not??

    After all they all are humans, not bowling machines. If everyone bowled in the same manner bowling could be replaced by bowling machines. In my opinion that balance and fairness had been kept by judging the bowling action by the umpires who were on the filed with naked eye. We the technology came the adjustment was done

  • mzm149 on August 21, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    Something should be done about those bowlers as well who pause for quite some time before delivering the ball.

  • nursery_ender on August 21, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    Posted by BigMachine on (August 21, 2014, 11:44 GMT) @mzm You are missing the point entirely. Any bowler can bowl any delivery - as long as he is not bending his arm more than 15 degrees. The laws of the game are quite clear.

    The Laws of the game *are* quite clear. Law 24 doesn't allow any straightening at all. The 15 degree provision is an ICC condition that relaxes that Law ininternational cricket.

  • BigMachine on August 21, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    @mzm You are missing the point entirely. Any bowler can bowl any delivery - as long as he is not bending his arm more than 15 degrees.

    The laws of the game are quite clear.

  • py0alb on August 21, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    15 degrees seems about right based on the evidence we have at our disposal. By all acounts, Ajmal is well within the limit and so should be completely exonerated. His doosra is completely legal.

    Don't see the problem here, Martin.

  • on August 21, 2014, 10:11 GMT

    if off-spinners can only bowl an off-spinning delivery but not a doosra then what about a batsman playing a reverse sweep which can give a bowler nightmares , this kind of talk has long been the case with reverse swing but now-a-days a bowler who can reverse swing a ball is considered the best bowler in world like Dale Steyn. As far as these so called courageous umpires are concerned they should be more concerned about their own performances because they made a new world record in first test b/w PAK and SL by giving most no. of wrong decions in a test match and third umpire was used more often than the onfield umpires. So i think cricket these days also donot require on field umpires as every decision has to be made by third umpire.

  • md111 on August 21, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    @mzm Not the best of arguments because every other delivery you mentioned can be bowled legally. Like Crowe I applaud the authorities/umpires for what they are doing at the moment if only just so players who people always thought had 'dodgy' actions can be tested and if necessary remedial work can take place or we know for definite their action is ok.

  • dinosaurus on August 21, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    @mzm,

    The goggly can be (and is) bowled without straightening the arm, it conforms with the rules of the game. The doosra can't.

  • on August 21, 2014, 9:23 GMT

    If the doosra is to be deemed illegal - the reverse sweep should also be baneed. Because the bowler sets a field for a right handed batsman, and the batsman suddenly becomes a left handed batsman.

    Everytime rules are changed, the batsman benefits.

    What cant we give batsman out lbw for balls pitching outside the leg stump when a batsman pads up like we do when the batsman offers no stroke to a ball pitching outside the off stump?

    Do that and we encourage the leg spinner - no need for doosras.

    Subra from Singapore

  • crzcric on August 21, 2014, 9:19 GMT

    bowlers should not break rules.But Modern day cricket giving too much for batsman.So many batting tracks all around the world. Its time to give something for bowlers.One day cricket need one ball for one innings rule.We're already missing revers swing in ODIs.Older ball support for the spinners as well.And Test matches should be more result oriented.No More boring draws.

  • CricketPissek on August 21, 2014, 8:17 GMT

    they should bend the rules, but only less than 15 degrees ;)

  • GedLadd on August 21, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    I think Martin Crowe is pretty much spot on here. The 15 degree "rule" is pragmatic, based on what the eye can see. Cricket is a grass roots game that cannot subject every kid to biomechanical analysis, so the coaches and umpires in the big wide world need to police this matter with their eyes. In the professional game, especially at international level, the rules need to be applied with rigour. A fast bowler chucking gains dangerous and unfair advantages of extra speed and bounce. Variations and mysteries in spin are to be welcomed, but should surely only be welcomed when the bowler can deploy those extra skills and mysteries within the rules. Many spinners can bowl variation balls - but disguising the one that goes the other way needs a very rare level. Some ordinary spinners are trying to progress beyond their natural skill levels through flexing the elbow for the doosra, which is illegal in cricket and should remain so. There's always legal leg spin for the truly skilful!

  • getsetgopk on August 21, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    @mzm149: Agree with you completely, when the googly first came over there were voices to make it illegal and it was eventualy termed as 'immoral' delivery. Now the clamp down on doosra is on, irrespective that the science of it says that its the fast bwolers that bend their arms more so than the spinners.

  • on August 21, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    @mzm149 there's nothing wrong with bowling the doosra, or any special delivery for that matter, as long as the arm is not bending beyond the limit. The doosra is mentioned in the article because people trying to bowl it seems to have trouble not bending the arm over the limit, that's all.

  • mzm149 on August 21, 2014, 5:14 GMT

    If Doosra is an aberration, whats so right about googly, carom ball, arm ball, top spin? Similarly a pacer should be allowed to bowl one type of delivery. An inswing bowler shouldn't bowl outswing. Similarly, it should be illegal for a bowler to bowl both leg cutters and off cutters. Yorkers and bouncers should not be bowled in a game by a bowler. Slow bowling by a pacer should be illegal too.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on August 21, 2014, 4:48 GMT

    Its a batsmans game . To make it level playing field some rules should be 'bent' in the bowlers favour I think. Chucking should be made legal,but the umpires will monitor its usage. For,eg. it should be used only for doosra . Only 5 doosras should be allowed in a 10 over spell for a bowler. It will be a good start. Rest of the rules are fine as it is.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on August 21, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    I just don't buy Martin Crowe's argument. Yes, two wrongs do not make a right, but over-prepared surfaces have become the bane of test cricket. Let the contest even out first before we clamp down on 'throwers'.

  • jmcilhinney on August 21, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    I think it's worth noting that the balance between bat and ball is not quite so important in limited-overs cricket as it is in first-class cricket. The bowlers certainly shouldn't be neutered to the degree that a bowling machine could do the same job but, unlike FC cricket, LO cricket doesn't required you to bowl a side out to win. FC cricket on pitches where bowlers can contain but not dismiss is pointless but bowlers who can be economical can and do still have a big impact in LO cricket. A bowler who can keep the scoring rate down will end up taking wickets anyway, by virtue of batsmen having to take greater risks than against less tidy bowlers.

  • jmcilhinney on August 21, 2014, 4:29 GMT

    I agree for the most part. That said, if most people say that they hate this chucking epidemic then it's mostly based on false assumptions. Whenever this subject comes up, we see loads of comments from people claiming that you need to bowl with a straight arm or you're chucking. This article itself dispels that myth. Almost noone can bowl with a straight arm so let's forget that. The actual rule is about how much you can straighten your arm from its original, arbitrary angle. Science has also proven that almost noone can keep that to zero either and many who we wouldn't have guessed actually straightened their arm quite a lot. The current law is sufficient to allow all those who we thought were bowling legally to keep on bowling legally. To change the rules to make what has never actually been done before legal would be a mistake, as Crowe suggests. Currently legal bowlers on decent pitches is better for the game than chuckers on roads, as Crowe suggests.

  • on August 21, 2014, 4:11 GMT

    Spoken like a true batsman. I for one think you can legitimately bowl a doosra, not easily mind you, but it is possible. Saqlain Mushtaq proves this theory. It took him years to learn how to bowl it, and even more to learn how to bowl it accurately. i think the 15deg rule is fine as it is somewhat pedantic to try and police something that cannot be observed with the naked eye.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on August 21, 2014, 4:11 GMT

    Spoken like a true batsman. I for one think you can legitimately bowl a doosra, not easily mind you, but it is possible. Saqlain Mushtaq proves this theory. It took him years to learn how to bowl it, and even more to learn how to bowl it accurately. i think the 15deg rule is fine as it is somewhat pedantic to try and police something that cannot be observed with the naked eye.

  • jmcilhinney on August 21, 2014, 4:29 GMT

    I agree for the most part. That said, if most people say that they hate this chucking epidemic then it's mostly based on false assumptions. Whenever this subject comes up, we see loads of comments from people claiming that you need to bowl with a straight arm or you're chucking. This article itself dispels that myth. Almost noone can bowl with a straight arm so let's forget that. The actual rule is about how much you can straighten your arm from its original, arbitrary angle. Science has also proven that almost noone can keep that to zero either and many who we wouldn't have guessed actually straightened their arm quite a lot. The current law is sufficient to allow all those who we thought were bowling legally to keep on bowling legally. To change the rules to make what has never actually been done before legal would be a mistake, as Crowe suggests. Currently legal bowlers on decent pitches is better for the game than chuckers on roads, as Crowe suggests.

  • jmcilhinney on August 21, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    I think it's worth noting that the balance between bat and ball is not quite so important in limited-overs cricket as it is in first-class cricket. The bowlers certainly shouldn't be neutered to the degree that a bowling machine could do the same job but, unlike FC cricket, LO cricket doesn't required you to bowl a side out to win. FC cricket on pitches where bowlers can contain but not dismiss is pointless but bowlers who can be economical can and do still have a big impact in LO cricket. A bowler who can keep the scoring rate down will end up taking wickets anyway, by virtue of batsmen having to take greater risks than against less tidy bowlers.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on August 21, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    I just don't buy Martin Crowe's argument. Yes, two wrongs do not make a right, but over-prepared surfaces have become the bane of test cricket. Let the contest even out first before we clamp down on 'throwers'.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on August 21, 2014, 4:48 GMT

    Its a batsmans game . To make it level playing field some rules should be 'bent' in the bowlers favour I think. Chucking should be made legal,but the umpires will monitor its usage. For,eg. it should be used only for doosra . Only 5 doosras should be allowed in a 10 over spell for a bowler. It will be a good start. Rest of the rules are fine as it is.

  • mzm149 on August 21, 2014, 5:14 GMT

    If Doosra is an aberration, whats so right about googly, carom ball, arm ball, top spin? Similarly a pacer should be allowed to bowl one type of delivery. An inswing bowler shouldn't bowl outswing. Similarly, it should be illegal for a bowler to bowl both leg cutters and off cutters. Yorkers and bouncers should not be bowled in a game by a bowler. Slow bowling by a pacer should be illegal too.

  • on August 21, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    @mzm149 there's nothing wrong with bowling the doosra, or any special delivery for that matter, as long as the arm is not bending beyond the limit. The doosra is mentioned in the article because people trying to bowl it seems to have trouble not bending the arm over the limit, that's all.

  • getsetgopk on August 21, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    @mzm149: Agree with you completely, when the googly first came over there were voices to make it illegal and it was eventualy termed as 'immoral' delivery. Now the clamp down on doosra is on, irrespective that the science of it says that its the fast bwolers that bend their arms more so than the spinners.

  • GedLadd on August 21, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    I think Martin Crowe is pretty much spot on here. The 15 degree "rule" is pragmatic, based on what the eye can see. Cricket is a grass roots game that cannot subject every kid to biomechanical analysis, so the coaches and umpires in the big wide world need to police this matter with their eyes. In the professional game, especially at international level, the rules need to be applied with rigour. A fast bowler chucking gains dangerous and unfair advantages of extra speed and bounce. Variations and mysteries in spin are to be welcomed, but should surely only be welcomed when the bowler can deploy those extra skills and mysteries within the rules. Many spinners can bowl variation balls - but disguising the one that goes the other way needs a very rare level. Some ordinary spinners are trying to progress beyond their natural skill levels through flexing the elbow for the doosra, which is illegal in cricket and should remain so. There's always legal leg spin for the truly skilful!

  • CricketPissek on August 21, 2014, 8:17 GMT

    they should bend the rules, but only less than 15 degrees ;)