ICC should be lauded for taking action against chuckers: Balvinder Singh Sandhu

The International Cricket Council needs to re-examine the rules and suggest that all bowlers bowl with half-sleeves in first-class and international matches as this will expose the bent elbow more clearly, writes Balvinder Singh Sandhu

Balvinder Singh SandhuThe International Cricket Council should be lauded for taking action against chuckers albeit belatedly. This tribe is growing fast and unfortunately, they are becoming role models for youngsters.

My heart aches when a commentator announces the name of a chucker for a man-of-the-match award and praises his (chucking) skills.

I empathise with the bowlers who work hard day-in and day-out to hone their skills and believe in playing fairly. If the ICC does not come hard on this “Chucker’s Club” then like match fixing, this menace will grow into a bigger devil and will be difficult to fix.

Saeed Ajmal
The ICC has banned Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal after finding his action illegal. Pic/AFP.

International cricket will soon find the numbers of bowlers with legitimate actions dwindling drastically and the influence of the ‘Chucker’s Club’ will suck the game like quick sand.

Credibility at stake
The credibility of the ICC is at stake and the cricketing world is watching its moves and intentions closely to see if things will be swept under the carpet or whether the international body means business. I fail to understand why it took so much time for the ICC to come to the conclusion that Saeed Ajmal bends his elbow more than what is allowed by law. Even those with bad eyesight can see the bent elbow.

The cricketing world can see on TV that the culprit’s bent elbow protruding out of a full sleeve shirt fails to hide the crime. Surprisingly, many TV commentators go ga ga over the chucker’s performances, gleefully rattling off records to educate the viewers and unabashedly praising their skills. I am sure the greats of the game in their hearts are fully aware about the facts, but then it takes courage to speak the truth. If they can’t speak the truth at least they should play down the performance of a chucker, as their comments have great impact and effect on the minds of young

Ajmal has been chucking in international cricket for long, having won many matches for his team, but was also instrumental in cutting short the careers of many with his illegitimate deliveries or due to the doubts that they create. But then, is a chucker the only one responsible for shortening the career of many batsmen?’

First, responsibility lies with the association which did not back the coach or umpire who first brought it to their notice and then to the notice of compromising umpires who failed to call him. Then, the selectors who picked him, then the team coach for playing him in the XI. All were well aware that the bowler had a suspect action.

ICC needs to relook the rules and suggest that all bowlers have to bowl with half-sleeves shirts at first-class and international matches. This will expose the bent elbow more clearly to the viewer and at the same time, the ICC shall be able to monitor the angle of bent elbow easily.

Also, making it mandatory for the TV companies to show in slow motion at least one ball per over with the camera zooming in on the bowling arm will help. If done well, the fear of being caught will surely affect the guilty minds, resulting in a drop in performance or their crime being exposed.

The ICC needs to empower umpires and match referees to stop a bowler with suspect action from bowling further in that innings and in the match. The bowler then has to get clearance from ICC-appointed experts before playing again. This will ensure that the onus of responsibility rests on the shoulder of selectors, coach and captain.

No captain or team management wants to be a bowler short in a game. The selectors will be forced to get the ICC expert’s clearance on the action of a bowler who they intend selecting, but have some doubts about his action.

Speak out like Bedi
I have yet to come across a selector, coach, umpire, captain, journalist or commentator who is not aware of a suspect action, but no one wants to bell the cat. I appeal to all former Test cricketers from all countries to raise their voice and scream when a chucker is seen just like our very own Bishan Singh Bedi does so very often.

Like match fixers, chuckers should be shunted out of the game because they rape the beautiful game of cricket.

3: The number of off-spinners — Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal, Zimbabwe’s Prosper Utseya and Bangladesh’s Sohag Gazi — reported for suspect actions last month

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