South African cricket April 22, 2009

Suspect action costs Botha IPL contract

The move by umpires to report Johan Botha for a suspect action in the fourth one-day international against Australia has cost the spinner a chance at a lucrative IPL contract. Cricinfo understands the Rajasthan Royals had approached the South African limited overs vice-captain in the weeks prior to the IPL, but were deterred after Botha was cited by umpires Rudi Koertzen, Brian Jerling and Asoka de Silva in Port Elizabeth.

ICC guidelines stipulate that bowlers reported for suspicious actions are eligible to continue playing until tests prove their elbow flexion exceeds 15 degrees. Botha, though, has already been stood down from the South African side for the final ODI against Australia in Johannesburg - a move aimed at shielding him from the public spotlight - and has now been been denied the chance to compete in the IPL on home soil.

Rajasthan co-owner, Manoj Badale, declined to comment when contacted by Cricinfo on Wednesday, but sources suggest it was indeed the Royals who expressed most interested in procuring Botha's services for the 2009 tournament. The defending IPL champions are currently without 2009 stars Shane Watson (international duty) and Sohail Tanvir (suspended contract), while Shaun Tait was recently withheld by Cricket Australia medical staff.

"I am aware that there had been a sniff from an IPL franchise, but the focus now is to get him tested and cleared," Tony Irish, chief executive of the South African Cricketers' Association, told Cricinfo. "I am sure that if he is cleared, there will be a lot of [IPL] interest in him.

"I was actually surprised that he wasn't picked up earlier, because he is without doubt one of the best Twenty20 bowlers in international cricket. But the most important thing is to get to Perth and hopefully get the all-clear to resume his international career."

Botha is due to fly to Perth early next week to undergo tests at the University of Western Australia - the same facility at which he was examined last reported in 2006. He had been in strong form prior to the match in Port Elizabeth, leading the South African one-day side to a rare series victory in Australia in Graeme Smith's absence, and bowling with tremendous control in the corresponding series at home.

Botha told Cricinfo last week that the work required to rectify his action was "pretty simple", and his coach, Mickey Arthur, expressed confidence the spinner would test below the 15 degree level of tolerance. But even if Botha passes the UWA test, the opportunity to play in the IPL this year appears to have passed him by, given that the window for player recruitment closed after the first game of the tournament.

"I have been approached by one or two IPL franchises to play but I can't as I need to be cleared fully before I can play in the IPL," Botha told the Cape Times. "It would be great to play in the IPL but I'm more concerned about being ready to play in the Twenty20 World Championship later in 2009.

"The whole excercise has been very frustrating. I hope they can get it all sorted out now. I'm hoping the results are good in Perth so that nobody will question my action again."

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo