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Sight Screen

Monday, May 30, 2005


...to the weekend, and the big news is that Harbhajan Singh has been cleared to bowl, with an action identical to the one he used during biomechanical testing at the University of Western Australia.
We are told that Marc Potus, the expert who analyzed Bajji's action, found some differences between his action under test conditions, and the one used in the game against Pakistan; "however, Mr Portus was unable to reach a definitive conclusion on the action used against Pakistan because of the quality of the footage and the camera angles used."
So now, David Richardson of the ICC will travel down to India for discussions with Bajji and his coach, to identify potential problem areas.
All of which is good. What puzzles me is the 'what next' question. First, take a couple of things as given: Not just Bajji, name any bowler in the world; make him bowl in match play with pressure on him and his side to take wickets, videograph him while he is doing that. Then take him into controlled test conditions, wire him up, and have him bowl.
You can bet your life's savings there will be a difference in action between those two conditions -- because there is a difference in what the bowler is trying to do. In the first instance, he is doing his damndest to take wickets; in the second, his focus is solely on bowling within the parameters of the rule book.
So, bottomline, there will be a difference. No surprise there. The real question is, does the action used in match play fall within the parameters of a legal delivery -- because, face it, that is the real question, is the ball I bowl in match play legit, or no? Can't say, says Potus, video footage not clear.
So what now? Assume Bajji bowls in a game tomorrow. The umpires -- are they, by the way, given the videos of Bajji bowling under Potus' eye, and told what is permissible? -- will report him, as will the match referee. Potus will examine him, and say hey, he is fine, there is a difference between how he bowled while I was watching and how he bowled in the game, but I can't say if it was illegal, coz the video footage is not clear. (It never will be -- the video cameras are not placed to assist with such questions).
And so it will go on, like a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, until Bajji decides enough is enough, and gives up cricket and joins his dad in the family business.
The Mad Hatter's analogy is apt, in fact -- for no sooner has Bajji moved on, than up comes Shabbir Ahmed, who has now been reported and will go through the motions.
Do note -- Shabbir will be analyzed by an expert, who will be provided match tapes of his bowling in Barbados.
Apparently the whole process of review will take close to a month. Let's save time -- fast forward 30 days, and here is the press release: 'The expert found nothing wrong with Shabbir's action. There was some difference between his bowling in test conditions and his bowling in Barbados, but the footage was not sufficient to determine if the bowling was illegal.'


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