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Sight Screen

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Saqlain's arm ball at the ICC

Remember when the rules of hockey were changed, to put the sub-continental masters of stickwork at a disadvantage and shift the emphasis to speed as against skill?
Saqlain Mushtaq seems to be suggesting that something of the kind is happening with cricket, if you go by his comments on the problems Bajji and Murali are having with their 'doosras'.
Bajji is back getting all wired up and tested -- and he will come back with the predictable clean chit. Which he will wear on his sleeve till the next time he bowls, at which point he will get called again. And get tested again...
Isn't it time this madness ended? The only resolution is to face facts -- chucking cannot be decided under test conditions; it can only be called on the field of play.
This business of umpires reporting suspect actions; some biometrics expert hooking the bowlers onto some machine and prosing on about angles of bend will merely create a vicious circle -- and end up defanging bowlers.
Maybe it is time to face a few basic facts -- just as batsmen innovate, invent new shots to better their scoring prospects, bowlers are going to be tweaking existing skill sets and trying to come up with new ways of getting batsmen out. That is a given.
In the process of experimentation, there is going to be some occasions when existing rules are transgressed upon -- or more accurately, seem to be.
The solution then would be to factor this in. To come up with a definition, relevant to today, on what constitutes chucking. And then to ensure that all umpires standing in international contests are conversant with that definition; that they enforce it without scope for idiosyncratic, individual interpretation; and finally, that they call a chuck a no ball on the field of play.
What the hell -- the rules say if your foot crosses the front line of the bowling crease, that is an illegal delivery.
So what do you do? Do you debate whether one bowler's legs, by virtue of being longer than those of others, needs special consideration? No, you call the illegal delivery, award an extra to the batting side, and get the bowler to deliver that one again. There is no stigma attaching to a bowler who extends his leg by a foot -- why should stigma then attach to a bowler who straightens his arm a degree or two more?
Isn't it time to treat a chuck like what it is -- an illegal delivery that can be called immediately, no stigma attached?
Call the bowler, award the extra run, get the ball rebowled, and move on -- wouldn't that be so much simpler?
There is another reason this business of reporting and testing doesn't work. If a bowler gets a wicket off a no ball, that is unfair, right? So what happens if, say, a Bajji -- merely for argument's sake -- chucks a doosra and gets a wicket?
You don't call the ball then; you merely report the bowler later. Meanwhile, the wicket -- or wickets -- stand; ergo, illegal deliveries have theoretically been rewarded.
How fair is that?


  • Yes but if they started calling these deliveries during the match, then it would raise a bigger controversy ! Because it depends upon the upmire's judgement of the angle, and that also if we assume he is in a condition to watch.

    We will then have incessant replays with imaginary straight lines drawn and commentator inciting the viewers that their national hero was wrongly called, thus they lost on the chance to get that criticial batsman out !

    And anyway how the heck can the umpire watch the delivery hand as well as the foot :-)

    I seriously dont see any way out of this rut. Unless someone comes up with a technology that can measure the angle of elbow in a replay. So that would decide whether the claim was legal or not. Any idea if such a technology is even being thought of anywhere ??

    By Blogger worma, at 11:32  

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