Grant Flower's action under fresh scrutiny

Grant Flower is once again in the news because of his action. On the third day of the first cricket Test between India and Zimbabwe at Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi, umpires S Venkataraghavan and John Hampshire were not happy with the legality of his bowling action. Late on the third day, Venkat went across to Zimbabwe skipper Heath Streak and had a quiet word with him. Although Flower was removed from the attack at that moment, he did come on to bowl later.

In a press release issued on the penultimate day of this Test match, Barry Jarman, the International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee said "After seeing Grant Flower bowl yesterday, both umpires and myself were not entirely happy with the legality of all his deliveries." Although Grant Flower was not actually called for throwing, it is now clear that the umpires had very strong suspicions that his action was not completely satisfactory at all times.

Jarman went on to add, "We will be viewing film provided by Channel Nine and if we are not happy with what we see, we will be going through the normal channel of sending the video to the ICC." It must be remembered that Grant Flower was no-balled for throwing in an international encounter against New Zealand earlier this year. Prior to that, he was also called for throwing in a Logan Cup match in Zimbabwean domestic cricket.

Flower became the 12th cricketer in the long history of the game to be no balled for throwing. However, he was recently 'cleared' by the ICC and this makes the matter all the more confusing. In this regard Jarman was quick to point out, "We understand that Grant Flower was no-balled by umpire Darrell Hair but was cleared... but there is no such thing as cleared." As Jarman rightly pointed out, one delivery on film could be legal while the next one may not be so.

The recent changes in the law regarding legality of a delivery make the issue one that will not go away in a hurry. Until this point, Hair was one of the few umpires who took the initiative and called bowlers. Umpires Venkat and Hampshire have not gone that far, but have certainly sent out a strong signal.