Sharjah: Sri Lanka's world record holder Muttiah Muralitharan, once called for chucking during his controversial career, today urged bowlers around the world to bowl within the rules or else change their actions.
The 42-year-old joined the debate whether the process adopted by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in its crackdown on bowlers with suspect actions will diminish the art of spin bowling, a craft which fetched him 800 wickets in Tests and 534 in one-dayers -- both records.
In July the ICC launched a crackdown on bowlers with suspect actions, suspending Sri Lanka's Sachitra Senanayake, New Zealand's Kane Williamson and Pakistan's high profile bowler Saeed Ajmal. Zimbabwe's Prosper Utseya and the Bangladeshi duo of Sohag Gazi and Al-Amin Hossan were also reported for suspect actions last month.
Apart from paceman Hossain, all other bowlers are off-spinners and some of them bowl the controversial "doosra," a delivery which turns the other way compared to the normal off-breaks. Under ICC rules -- implemented in 2006 after controversy over Muralitharan's doosra -- bowlers are allowed to straighten their arms by 15 degree, established as the point at which any straightening will become visible to the naked eye.
But both Ajmal and Senanayake went close to 43 degrees during their assessments in a bio-mechanic lab and need remedial work to get clearance. Muralitharan stressed that bowlers should follow the rules. "The law was set long time ago," Muralitharan told the media. "It says 15 degrees (is allowed). If the law has said that any bowler is suspect, umpires can't call him but they can report him and bowlers have to go for a reviewing test.
"The law was already there when I was playing so you have to go and test and see. If you come under 15 you are legal if you go over that you have to work on your action that is the basic need. "It is not up to other people to judge because the law is there and I also faced same problem and I also went for testing and my action came lower than that." Australian umpire Darrell Hair called Muralitharan for throwing in a Test in Australia in 1995 and Ross Emerson followed suit three years later.
In 2004 Muralitharan was ordered not to bowl the doosra, invented by his Pakistan contemporary Saqlain Mushtaq. Asked if it was possible to bowl the doosra within the rules, Muralitharan said: "I have been tested so many times but I do bowl with 10.4 so I have bowled it and showed that it could work because it depends on the bowler how they do and if you ask Saqlain he will say the same thing."
Muralitharan said Ajmal can overcome his bowling action flaws. "Definitely if you work two to three months. He is working with Saqlain and he will give tips to him and he can work on it. Muralitharan, now working as spin consultant for Australia in their series against Pakistan in United Arab Emirates, said he has forgot all the controversies he endured.
"Life is all about moving forward and not thinking backwards and saying he has done me that, I am going to be harsh to him. So forget and forgive because in my life what happened is they suspected my action and I had to prove myself that I am innocent and I proved myself all 20 years."