SLC starts campaign to eradicate illegal actions
Sri Lanka Cricket has begun a campaign to stamp out bowlers with illegal actions from the domestic game. The drive, which includes schools, started a month ago and has brought encouraging results.
Umpires officiating in the ongoing Under-23 division I and 2 tournament were asked to report bowlers with suspect actions. Around 20-25 bowlers have been reported till date, the majority of them offspinners.
"This has been an ongoing issue with our cricket and we are now taking radical steps to eradicate this menace which is like a cancer spreading to all corners of the country," SLC umpires educator Tyron Wijewardene said. "Since we started to crack down on illegal bowling from last month there have been encouraging signs. Bowlers who have been reported once or called during a match have shown a big improvement."
The procedure for reporting of a bowler in Sri Lanka is slightly different to that of the ICC. "If a bowler is reported twice in succession he will be banned from bowling and referred to the SLC coaching department for remedial action," Wijewardene said. "Similarly if a bowler is called for chucking on three occasions in a match he will not be able to bowl until he is cleared by the coaching department."
The coaching department is headed by Jerome Jayaratne, a former fast bowler, and also has former Sri Lanka spinner Piyal Wijetunge supported by district coaches.
After a bowler is reported by the umpires and match referee, a copy of the report is handed either to the bowler or the team manager at the end of the match. The match referee's copy is sent to Wijewardene who subsequently updates what is called 'the Grid' and sends a copy each to the coaching department, the illegal bowling action review committee and to all the umpires and match referees officiating in the tournament.
The committee is headed by former national selector Shabir Asgerally and comprises former Sri Lanka fast bowler Graeme Labrooy and PR Paranavitana.
Wijewardene, who took up the position in April, said he has conducted workshops in Kandy, Kurunegala, Colombo and Galle in educating umpires on illegal bowling and held a workshop at Ananda College, Colombo for school coaches. He hopes to expand the campaign to Under-19 level prior to the start of the next schools season and later go to the grassroots level of Under-13.
"Provincial coaches have also been briefed to rectify suspect bowling actions rather than bring them all the way to Colombo," said Wijewardene, a former ICC international panel umpire and first-class cricketer.
"It's the fault of the system that from junior levels they don't detect a bowler's defective action early in their careers and correct it. These bowlers get exposed once they reach the Under-19, Under-17, provincial or national levels. We hope to completely eradicate this growing menace in the next two to three years."
The reporting and banning of Sri Lanka offspinner Sachithra Senanayake for an illegal action was the trigger for SLC's campaign. Senanayake was reported in May during the ODI series in England and has since been tested in Cardiff and undergone remedial action in Perth.