New technology to monitor Murali~~s action

Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Australian experts checking the validity of Muttiah Muralitharan's controversial "doosra" delivery will use state-of-the-art, Academy award-winning technology to resolve cricket's most vexing question.

Murali, on the verge of becoming Test cricket's leading wicket-taker, will arrive in Perth this week to have his new delivery assessed by an advanced camera system responsible for the animation in 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

Match referee Chris Broad reported the doosra, the off-spinner's 'wrong-un' delivery, as suspect after Murali took 28 wickets in Sri Lanka's 3-0 series loss to Australia at home this month.

The report to the International Cricket Council (ICC) led to the Sri Lanka Cricket referring him to biomechanics experts to have the delivery tested and reignited a political battle over the merits of the inquest.

The doubts raised by Englishman Broad incensed Sri Lankan officials, with former captain Arjuna Ranatunga hinting at a "white conspiracy" to stop Murali (513) passing West Indian Courtney Walsh's world record of 519 Test wickets, expected in Sri Lanka's tour of Zimbabwe in April-May.

But Perth-based professor Bruce Elliott, an ICC-approved human-movement specialist who tested Murali in 1996, told Australian Associated Press the advanced technology to be used would deliver a correct and clear-cut analysis of his doosra.

Elliott will use a 12-camera Vicon system which is an updated version of the system used eight years ago, shooting 250 frames per second compared to the six-camera system which captured 50 frames per second.

It allows smaller reflective markers to be attached to the bowler around the elbow, which impede the action less. "It's the ultimate analysis tool, it's the same sort of tool that they use for all the animations in Lord of the Rings," Elliott said.

Elliott said the process, which measures whether the bent arm extends more than 10 percent, was accurate. "This is all automatic so the numbers are spat out and you don't even see the number until it comes out in a graph," he said.

"It's absolutely ridgy didge (perfect) from that viewpoint. What the number is what actually happens." Elliott, fellow tester Daryl Foster and a third expert will conduct a number of trials while Murali stays in Perth for five days to get an accurate representation of how he bowls. They expect to finish their report late next week.

They will not test Murali's stock ball - the off-spinner - or his top-spinner, as both were given the green light in 1996 after it was concluded Murali's unique action created an optical illusion that he chucked.

If the elastic-wristed bowler, born with a bent elbow, is found to extend his arm by 10 percent or more, he would have to decide whether to undertake remediation with the ICC or stop bowling the doosra.

"If it is found he extends then the decision is really with him," Elliott said. "He could remove the ball from his repertoire and it's only been in his repertoire for the last year and bit anyway. "It may be that the ICC would force him to remove that delivery from his repertoire but that is conjecture."

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