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    Ban is no solution to chucking issue

    Ban is no solution to chucking issue
    (

    THIS IS simply no solution. A ban, like the one International Cricket Council has slapped on Shoaib Akhtar for bowling with illegal action, is no way to resolve the vexed issue of throwing that has vied with the betting and bribery scandal as one of the two most debated subjects in cricket circles in the recent past.

    It is unthinkable that the ICC would have even thought, let alone sought, to prevent an English bowler from playing cricket for a month on such grounds. For, the cricketer would have taken the ICC to court for stopping him from plying his trade. How can the ICC stop someone from playing when he has not been called for throwing at all? The Laws of Cricket -- or the ICC Code of Conduct -- do not provide for a bowler to be so outlawed.

    Would a bowler be banned just because he bowls no-balls by overstepping the crease more than his contemporaries? It is not as if Akhtar throws every one of his deliveries. I am convinced Akhtar does chuck occasionally but that is no reason for ICC to have kept him away from the international stage and that we are missing the woods for the trees.

    There is a popular misconception that a bowler is throwing if he delivers the ball with his arm bent at the elbow. Let us get back to the Laws of Cricket to try and clear the doubt. Law 24 clause 2 reads: "For a delivery to be fair, the ball must be bowled, not thrown -- see note (a) below. If either umpire is not entirely satisfied with the absolute fairness in this respect, he shall call and signal 'no-ball' instantly upon delivery."

    Note (a) appended to the Law defines a throw: "A ball shall be deemed to have been thrown if, in the opinion of either umpire, the process of straightening the bowling arm, whether it be partial or complete, takes place during the part of the delivery swing which directly precedes the ball leaving the hand. This definition shall not debar a bowler from the use of the wrist in the delivery swing."

    Now, given the intricate wording, that may not be the best definition of a throw. Even then, the key question is not if a bowler delivers the arm with a bent elbow but if he straightens his arm in the moment before delivery. The umpires would have to judge each delivery on its merits. It would be a good idea to let the umpires call them in the old-fashioned manner. This would mean that the teams will have to accept -- and respect -- the umpires' decisions without making it an international controversy.

    Why then are the ICC and its Committee on Illegal Bowling Action abrogating the powers of the umpires? Come to think of it, the Australians have to cope the blame for things having to come to such a pass. If Darryl Hair had not called Muralitharan even when he bowled a leg break back in 1995, we may have had a different story to tell. The ghost of chucking that stalks world cricket today would never have been born.

    India’s off-spinners Rajesh Chauhan and Harbhajan Singh were flown to England for a stint each under Fred Titmus. I wonder who will be in charge of correcting Akhtar’s action. Is his basic action not as smooth as the sentinels of the game would like? Or have they picked on a few deliveries from his recent Test tour of Australia to make a case against him?

    As Australian captain Steve Waugh said men like Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee, not to speak of Muttiah Muralitharan and Saqlain Mushtaq, should be left alone. The raw power that Akhtar and Lee reflect in each of their springy steps and delivery have the potential to be wonderful attractions in the modern game. But such wisdom has gone unheeded and ICC's decision to keep Akhtar away from international cricket for a while will only leave the game so much poorer for it.

    To be sure, cricket will survive this. Has it not seen worse -- Bodyline, betting and bribery scandals et al -- and evolved through all of the 20th century into the game that we now know it to be?
    (G Rajaraman)

    THIS IS simply no solution. A ban, like the one International Cricket Council has slapped on Shoaib Akhtar for bowling with illegal action, is no way to resolve the vexed issue of throwing that has vied with the betting and bribery scandal as one of the two most debated subjects in cricket circles in the recent past.

    It is unthinkable that the ICC would have even thought, let alone sought, to prevent an English bowler from playing cricket for a month on such grounds. For, the cricketer would have taken the ICC to court for stopping him from plying his trade. How can the ICC stop someone from playing when he has not been called for throwing at all? The Laws of Cricket -- or the ICC Code of Conduct -- do not provide for a bowler to be so outlawed.

    Would a bowler be banned just because he bowls no-balls by overstepping the crease more than his contemporaries? It is not as if Akhtar throws every one of his deliveries. I am convinced Akhtar does chuck occasionally but that is no reason for ICC to have kept him away from the international stage and that we are missing the woods for the trees.

    There is a popular misconception that a bowler is throwing if he delivers the ball with his arm bent at the elbow. Let us get back to the Laws of Cricket to try and clear the doubt. Law 24 clause 2 reads: "For a delivery to be fair, the ball must be bowled, not thrown -- see note (a) below. If either umpire is not entirely satisfied with the absolute fairness in this respect, he shall call and signal 'no-ball' instantly upon delivery."

    Note (a) appended to the Law defines a throw: "A ball shall be deemed to have been thrown if, in the opinion of either umpire, the process of straightening the bowling arm, whether it be partial or complete, takes place during the part of the delivery swing which directly precedes the ball leaving the hand. This definition shall not debar a bowler from the use of the wrist in the delivery swing."

    Now, given the intricate wording, that may not be the best definition of a throw. Even then, the key question is not if a bowler delivers the arm with a bent elbow but if he straightens his arm in the moment before delivery. The umpires would have to judge each delivery on its merits. It would be a good idea to let the umpires call them in the old-fashioned manner. This would mean that the teams will have to accept -- and respect -- the umpires' decisions without making it an international controversy.

    Why then are the ICC and its Committee on Illegal Bowling Action abrogating the powers of the umpires? Come to think of it, the Australians have to cope the blame for things having to come to such a pass. If Darryl Hair had not called Muralitharan even when he bowled a leg break back in 1995, we may have had a different story to tell. The ghost of chucking that stalks world cricket today would never have been born.

    India’s off-spinners Rajesh Chauhan and Harbhajan Singh were flown to England for a stint each under Fred Titmus. I wonder who will be in charge of correcting Akhtar’s action. Is his basic action not as smooth as the sentinels of the game would like? Or have they picked on a few deliveries from his recent Test tour of Australia to make a case against him?

    As Australian captain Steve Waugh said men like Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee, not to speak of Muttiah Muralitharan and Saqlain Mushtaq, should be left alone. The raw power that Akhtar and Lee reflect in each of their springy steps and delivery have the potential to be wonderful attractions in the modern game. But such wisdom has gone unheeded and ICC's decision to keep Akhtar away from international cricket for a while will only leave the game so much poorer for it.

    To be sure, cricket will survive this. Has it not seen worse -- Bodyline, betting and bribery scandals et al -- and evolved through all of the 20th century into the game that we now know it to be?
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