ICC addresses illegal bowling actions

The International Cricket Council's Chief Executives' Committee has approved proposals aimed at ending the malaise over illegal bowling actions

Cricinfo staff

The ICC hopes that the innuendo will finally end
The International Cricket Council's Chief Executives' Committee has approved proposals aimed at ending the malaise over illegal bowling actions. Under the new proposals, the tolerance limit - for straightening of the arm - for all bowlers will be set at 15 degrees, which studies have shown is when the naked eye can make out excessive straightening. The changes were suggested by an expert panel chaired by Sunil Gavaskar, the former Indian opening batsman, and the changes will come into effect from March 1, 2005.
There will be increased commitment to working with the problem at the junior level, and changes in the testing, analysis and review procedures currently being employed. The new regulations will be based on the findings of the ICC's research programme which discovered that most bowlers are likely to straighten their arm to a level undetectable by the naked eye during the bowling action.
The key elements of the regulations are:
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Strengthening of the initiatives to deal with the issue at the international and regional Under-19 level
  • Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, admitted that there might be a strong reaction from sections of the cricket community, but he insisted that the radical overhaul in the laws was necessary to deal with a problem that has plagued cricket ever since the near-epidemic of chucking in the late 1950s.
    "This issue has afflicted the game for over sixty years. Try as it might, the sport has never properly come to terms with it," said Speed. "Every time it comes up there are emotional reactions from people around the world based on fear and ignorance and I've no doubt we will see them all again this time.
    "The reality is that this new process provides the game with a sensible way forward to properly protect against people breaking the rules while providing every opportunity for players with illegal actions to remedy any problems and return to the game."
    The committee included Aravinda de Silva, Angus Fraser, Michael Holding, Tony Lewis and Tim May, along with David Richardson, the former South African wicketkeeper who is now on the ICC staff. Their proposals were then considered by the ICC's Cricket Committee, made up of former international players and umpires which was chaired by Gavaskar.
    Gavaskar said that one of the strengths of the new procedures was that they had been brought forward and scrutinised by people who had played international cricket, and who also had the benefit of understanding the latest research findings on the issue.
    "These recommendations have come from people who have played the game at the highest level and who have a deep appreciation of the issues," he said. "While the scientific evidence presented made the case for changing the current bowling review process compelling, it is a cricketing decision, proposed by cricketers for cricketers.
    "The changes should make the process quicker and fairer to all players and will promote consistency in the way in which reported bowlers' actions are dealt with."
    Speed also used the opportunity to make clear that rumours that the ICC had examined the actions of players from the past were without basis. "It is simply not possible to go back and use old footage to analyse the actions of bowlers from previous generations," said Speed. "There were reports that suggested that players such as Dennis Lillee, Sir Richard Hadlee, Jeff Thomson and Imran Khan had been analysed by the ICC panel when this simply isn't possible."
    Any bowler who has been reported under the old system will be dealt with under that system although it is likely that this will have little practical affect given the current playing commitments for these players. Additionally, no bowler who had been pulled up under the old system will be cleared as a result of the adoption of these recommendations by the ICC Chief Executives' Committee.