The new ICC process dealing with suspect bowling actions at international level will come into force from March 1 2005.
The amended process represents a radical overhaul of the previous system and sees changes in the testing, analysis and review procedures used to assess bowlers with suspected illegal actions. There will also be an increased commitment to dealing with the issue at junior international level. The proposals were approved by the ICC in February.
Sunil Gavaskar, who chaired the ICC's cricket committee, said that a major strength of the new procedures were that they had been recommended and endorsed by a panel that had played the game at the highest level and also had the benefit of understanding the latest research findings on the issue. "While the detailed scientific evidence made the case for changing the previous process compelling, it is a cricketing decision, proposed by cricketers for cricketers. The changes will make the process quicker and fairer to all players and will promote consistency in the way in which reported bowlers' actions are dealt with."
The new regulations deal with the reality established during the ICC's extensive research program, that most bowlers are likely to straighten their arm to a level undetectable by the naked eye during the bowling action.
The five key elements of the new regulations are:
1. An acceptance that the focus of the Law concerning illegal actions is that it seeks to deal with the extension of the arm that is visible to the naked eye.
2. All bowlers will be permitted to straighten their bowling arm up to 15 degrees, which has been established as the point at which any straightening will become visible to the naked eye.
3. The introduction of a shorter, independent review process under the central control of the ICC, with immediate suspensions for bowlers found to have illegal actions.
4. The overhaul and standardisation of the bio-mechanical testing of bowlers to ensure that all tests in all laboratories are consistent in the way that they measure the degree of straightening.
5. Strengthening of the initiatives to deal with the issue at international and regional Under 19 level.
David Richardson, the ICC's general manager - cricket, said that the new process retained the principle that match officials should be responsible for the identification of suspect actions, followed by scientific analysis to either prove or disprove this suspicion.
"It is important that umpires and referees retain the responsibility of reporting doubtful actions as they are the people who see most cricket and work with players around the world," he explained. "They will not be asked to judge the degree of straightening; that will be determined by scientific laboratory analysis to establish if the action complies with the new regulations."
With no reports outstanding from the previous process, all international bowlers are now subject to the revised protocols. This means that all bowlers will be assessed on the same basis, including those who have been reported under the previous system.
Recognising that bowling actions are subject to change during the course of a career, no bowler will be cleared after being reported. Any player reported twice and proven to have an illegal action within a two year period, will be suspended from international cricket for a minimum of 12 months.
In certain cases, reported bowlers may be allowed to play international cricket with a warning not to bowl a specific type of delivery that has been scientifically proven to exceed the 15 degree limit.