Sri Lanka Cricket has said that its drive to reduce the number of bowlers with suspect actions in school and age-group cricket has been a success. The number of reported cases of suspect actions in age-group cricket had reduced from 178 last year to five this year, according to the SLC.
"We had this visibility drive campaign where umpires had workshops for school coaches and umpires to create awareness," SLC vice-president K Mathivanan said. "That has helped us to bring down the number of reported cases from 178 last year (in the under-19, u-17, u-15 and u-13 categories) down to five this year.
"Only one boy was reported in the under-19 age group this season and four in the under-13. There was none reported in the under-17 and under-15 age groups. This is certainly an encouraging sign; it's a vast improvement from last year."
Mathivanan said that only six bowlers had been reported for suspect bowling actions in club cricket. These bowlers, he said, had then worked with former Sri Lanka fast bowler Ravindra Pushpakumara at the Khettarama Stadium High Performance Centre to improve their actions.
Mathivanan attributed the success of the campaign to the Illegal Bowling Action Committee (IBAC), headed by former Sri Lanka player Ishak Sahabdeen, and assistance from former Sri Lanka umpires Asoka de Silva and Tyron Wijewardene.
"The boys and coaches know that the umpires are also monitoring them," Mathivanan said. "Some time back the umpires were just calling them but now they know their actions are being monitored and some of the suspect bowlers are not bowling at all. They may have even given up bowling."
The need to eradicate chucking at school level grew more urgent after three Sri Lankan bowlers were reported for suspect actions during the 2014 Under-19 World Cup. To prevent a repetition in the 2016 Under 19 World Cup, SLC sent seven bowlers with suspect actions to the ICC-accredited testing centre in Chennai to have their bowling actions checked and corrected. No Sri Lankan bowler was reported during the tournament as a result.
"We will start the campaign again in August to create more awareness with posters and also issue a CD with the bowling actions of what represents a fair and unfair delivery," Mathivanan said. "We'll have posters put up in the schools and have workshops with the school coaches and umpires. It's only through the workshop program this awareness was created.
"We want to keep this campaign going each year as there are new boys coming through the under-13 age group upwards. We just can't relax because this is an ongoing thing, and the moment there are signs of relaxing this menace can always creep in, we need to conduct this program every year."