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Throwing In Cricket (concerning off spin bowling)
Brad Hogg Action
This is an extremely contentious issue and it ruffles my feathers for the integrity of the game. I was so astonished by some player actions when watching a game on TV a short while ago, that I spent two hours freeze framing the action of an off-spinner, vainly attempting to use a protractor  to determine the degree of bend in his elbow.  Of course I can't get the angles to reflect the camera angles, but that said ... to my eye, it looked closer to a 35 degree angle than 15 degree. There are a number of bowlers around the world that are utilizing the 15 degree allowance of the elbow very liberally. Players don’t need to be named, everyone knows who they are.

The controlling body of the game, say that technology will be available to adjudge players arms elasticity during play. I am all for this to happen and hopefully meanwhile, the bowler is called for a no ball for the discrepancy, and we don’t have to wait for a conference after the match to formalise whether a player is a chucker or legitimate.

This same body redefined the minimum bend from 9 to 15 degrees a couple of decades ago because of a couple of incidences in world cricket at the time, yet over the last decade we have seen bowlers with more exaggerated kinks in the elbow than ever before.  Yet the rule makers are sitting on their hands, unsure of the action to take. I guarantee if a fire started in their living room, they would not stay in the comfort of the couch, hoping that it will go away without doing any damage.

After the fates of a couple of Umpires during a series in Australia against the Sri Lankans nearly 20 years ago, the adjudicators are petrified of making a scene that will fill up the pages of a couple of a unreadable tabloids. Umpires should be encouraged to express their interpretations of the rules during play, which is what they are paid for. To me, a bent arm of more than 15 degrees is just as big a crime as performance enhancing drugs in sport.  The player is taking advantage of the weaknesses in the interpretation to cheat.

I recall that during the Champions League trophy in South Africa last year, I sheepishly suggested to Agar, (the promising left arm off spinner that has been touted as the next big thing), that he should just bowl the doosra if he thought his action would be under scrutiny. He queried me about my opinion and I replied “If everyone else is getting away with it, you might just as well. They will ask to get the delivery tested in the next 6 months where you just attempt to bowl it with a slower action”.  It shows the true values of the young man and the respect for the game of cricket that he did not take my advice, and I just wish the more experienced players would approach their games with the same veneration.   

It is too late waiting for two more years for the technology to become available and indeed implemented, in order to control the legality of bowling actions during play. Academy’s and coaches around the world are encouraging young players to replicate the stars of the game today to the detriment of the game. When the new technology is implemented, and if bowlers are found to be a little too elastic in their actions, then the domino effect on talented off spin bowlers will see a deterioration of the art of off spin bowling over the next decade if action is not taken straight away.

In my opinion, two of the best off spinners in the world at the moment, with the most legitimate actions and who are thrilling to watch, are Graeme Swan, the English test bowler, and Nathan Lyon, the Australian who is the second quickest off spinner from Australian to get to 50 wickets.  They both have lethal arm balls that bamboozle batsmen. Saqlain Mushtaq is the only off spinner I have seen that can bowl the doosra without being suspected of throwing.   I witnessed it when I faced him at the WACA around 1997.

I'm inclined to think that umpires should be encouraged to call a bowler for throwing during play.  Although it will cause an uproar amongst some in the cricket fraternity, it will cause players to look at their honesty and respect for the game by correcting their actions to fit the 15 degree rule.  It will create great conversation amongst cricket enthusiasts.  And most importantly, it will encourage younger generations of off spinners to be more selective with their own actions.

I'd like to see the ICC step in now and inform players with suspect actions, that those specific deliveries which might offer more elbow grease than 15 degrees will be given the power for the umpire to call, if deemed to be a throw.  

Rules are Rules there should be no grey areas. Let’s encourage the true art of off spin bowling.




(c) Copyright - March 2013 - Article written by Brad Hogg. Written permission to copy, quote, or use this article in part or whole must be sought and granted in writing from for GURUS Entertainment & Management P/L. The opinions of this blog are not those of GURUS Entertainment & Management Pty Ltd.

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