Illegal bowling actions, technology top ICC agenda

Published: Wednesday, May 12, 2004, 4:49 [IST]
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London:Illegal bowling actions will be at the forefront of discussions at a two-day meeting of the cricket committee of the International Cricket Council (ICC) starting in Dubai on Thursday.

Also on the agenda for the 12-member committee, an advisory body chaired by legendary India batsman Sunil Gavaskar, are a report on umpires and match referees performances during 2003-04.

Plans for future technology trials, following on from the 2003 experiments in South Africa where umpires were given ear-pieces linked to stump microphones to help them rule on thin edges and special white markings in line with the leg stump to assist with lbw decisions, will be considered as well.

But it is the issue of illegal bowling actions, one of cricket's most intractable problems, which is likely to excite most interest.

The subject has been thrown into sharp relief by the controversy surrounding Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

Last week Murali set a new world record of 521 Test wickets against Zimbabwe in Harare, breaking the previous mark of 519 of retired West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh.

Murali, whose unorthodox action has seen him no-balled for 'throwing' in the past, has come under fresh scrutiny because of his 'doosra' delivery.

That prompted match referee Chris Broad to report Murali to the ICC after the spinner used the 'doosra', which unlike a conventional off-spinner turns away from the right-handed batsman, during Sri Lanka's home Test series against Australia in March.

Muralitharan was then sent to Australia to work on his bowling action with a biomechanical expert.

The doosra was scientifically deemed a throw last month after tests in Perth where it was found Murali straightened his bent arm by 10 degrees.

That is twice the limit tolerated for spinners under ICC by-laws governing throwing.

However, under current ICC regulations Murali was allowed to continue bowling, doosra and all, during the initial six-week reporting period.

That re-ignited the debate about whether players reported to the ICC for suspect actions should be allowed to continue playing and the Dubai meeting will be reviewing the existing process for dealing with such bowlers.

Apart from Gavaskar, the cricket committee also features several other retired Test players with Australia off-spinner Tim May, England seamer Angus Fraser (England), and former Sri Lanka batsman Aravinda de Silva, all having departed the international playing scene within the past decade.

Present too will be Zimbabwe's Kevin Arnott. He is likely to face questioning on the state of cricket in the troubled African country, following the Zimbabwe Cricket Union's decision to sack 15 senior white players, even though this subject is not on the agenda.

ICC president Ehsan Mani of Pakistan and the global governing body's Australian chief executive Malcolm Speed will also be in attendance.

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