Adam Gilchrist has said he believes Muttiah Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan offspinner, has a suspect action, but blamed the ICC for allowing him bowl in international cricket. Gilchrist wrote in his autobiography that there was no doubt in his mind that as per the laws of the game, Murali and many others have been guilty of chucking.
"I don't think he's personally to blame: he bowled the way he bowled, and it was not up to him to do any more than he was asked," Gilchrist wrote in his newly published book True Colours. He said though the argument that Murali's suspect action was an optical illusion was legally correct, it was a "direct attack to the spirit of the game".
"As much as I like Murali, my sympathies lay more with those batsmen, from every other nation, whose careers suffered because of a bowler who was in technical breach of the rules and seemed to enjoy a kind of political protection."
Murali was first no-balled for his action during his first tour of Australia in 1995-96 and though he was cleared after a biomechanical analysis, the controversy didn't die out. He was called again on the 1998-99 tour to Australia and sent for further tests in Perth and England only to be cleared again.
In 2004 the ICC stopped Murali from bowling the doosra, because his arm bent by an average of 10 degrees when bowling the delivery, which was double the permitted level for spinners. But next year, the ICC tweaked the the bowling laws to allow all bowlers "to straighten their bowling arm up to 15 degrees, which was established as the point at which any straightening will become visible to the naked eye".
Gilchrist called the rule change "horse crap" and said the situation had reached an absurd point where the laws were changed to accommodate Murali. "When I heard that the rules would now allow degree of straightening - 15 degrees to be exact, a fraction more than Murali's straightening had been measured at - I thought 'That's a load of horse crap. That's rubbish."
Gilchrist said Murali's doosra seemed to pass scrutiny without rigorous examination. "Often Australian players, having seen him bowl yet another suspect doosra past the outside edge, would look at each other in changing room and say: 'Wasn't that one meant to have been sorted out?'"