India tour of Pakistan, 2005-06 February 1, 2006

Chappell ignites Shoaib action debate

Cricinfo staff

Shoaib Akhtar finds making friends a hard task © Getty Images

Shoaib Akhtar's bowling action has once again come under the spotlight following comments reportedly made by Greg Chappell, India's coach.

"There is something seriously different about it [Shoaib's action]," Reuters has quoted Chappell as saying to India's 24-hour television channel Times Now. His comments came after Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble were hit on the helmet by rising Shoaib deliveries in the ongoing third and final Test at Karachi. Chappell added that India could do without its players being hit like that.

"We have seen these reports and we are trying to find out whether he has said these things," Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, told Reuters on Wednesday. "If he has implied anything about Shoaib's action it is a violation of the ICC code of conduct.

"In 2004, our chief selector Wasim Bari made some comments about the umpires officiating in a international game involving Pakistan and he was reprimanded by the ICC for violation of code of conduct which applies to all players, team and board officials."

Khan pointed out that the PCB had also asked Ranjan Madugalle, the match referee, to look into the matter. "Even if something has been implied in any statement we will pursue it with the match referee," he said.

Shoaib had been singled out for a defective action twice in his career, but was cleared by the University of Western Australia's testing centre in 2001 when it was determined that he had an abnormality in his elbow.

However, Bruce Elliott, the West Australian biomechanics expert who worked with Shoaib and Muralitharan, said it was unnecessary to re-evaluate the two. "Both of them were tested under the same conditions as what we're going to be using for [Johan] Botha. They have already been tested and cleared. Shoaib gets hyperextension, which the ICC says is OK, and rightly so," he was quoted as saying by The Age, a Melbourne-based daily. "Otherwise, you would run into problems with disability and people would take them to the high court. It's an abnormality in the arm, he is double-jointed."

Elliott and Dr Paul Hurion, one of the ICC's experts on human-movement, are set to test Botha, the South African spinner, today. Hurion is credited for developing an innovative computer video software five years ago that was used to set the levels of a bowler's arm straightening at five degrees for a spinner, 7.5 for a medium-fast bowler and 10 for a fast bowler.

This software was shelved in 2004 when it was decided that a uniform 15 degrees would suffice for evaluation. Hurion was quick to point out that Shoaib and Muralitharan were tested under the old system. "There are a few bowlers, Muttiah Muralitharan and Shoaib Akhtar among them, who haven't gone through the new protocol," he said. "That would clear a lot of the scaremongering and the underlying suspicion."