Indian doctor helps Murali prove 'doosra' correct

Published: Tuesday, July 6, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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London:With the help of an Indian doctor, Test cricket's highest wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan is out to prove experts wrong that flexion plays a part in imparting spin while he bowls his 'doosra' or the ball that moves away from the right-handers.

Murali, who skipped Sri Lanka's tour to Australia in an apparent protest to Australian Prime Minister John Howard's remark that he was a chucker, demonstrated at Shenley Cricket Centre in Hertforshire that flexion plays no part in imparting spin when he bowls either the 'doosra' or the orthodox off-breaks.

The Sri Lankan, who has 527 Test wickets, first bowled in a turf net at a competent club cricketer to show how much turn he generates normally, then with an impediment, which weighed one pound (approx 2.5 kg), according to a report in The Independent.

The impediment, developed by an Indian doctor and comprising three steel bars wrapped in nylon, was strapped across his elbow, thus making the joint immovable.

While the 32-year-old accepted the brace is not scientific, at least when he is wearing it and it immobilises the elbow, he proved that it is his shoulder which supplies his pace and his wrist which imparts spin, and that flexion does not play any part in his action.

When he was tested in laboratory conditions at the University of Western Australia earlier this year, 12 cameras were set up to monitor every part of the bowler during delivery. Murali was found to have 14 degrees of flexion. Intense work with biomechanics and coaches has reduced that to 10 degrees.Murali was angry that by taking away 'doosra', the International Cricket Council (ICC) had taken away one of the main weapons in his armoury.

"The doosra is my weapon. I feel angry that they have taken it away. It is like telling a fast bowler he cannot bowl a bouncer. When a batsman does not fear the bouncer he has an advantage," he said.

"People say I have an unfair advantage which has brought me success. I was born like this. People are born with all sorts of physical differences which allow them to do things that other people cannot.

"That is how it is for me, so I am gifted in a way; people cannot copy me or bowl like me. And there are other bowlers around whose physical attributes mean they cannot be imitated. Paul Adams of South Africa is one. And there will be more players with 'abnormal' physical attributes in the future."

He argued that the game should accommodate all players with different physical types and variations.

"Cricket should accommodate everyone, all physical types and variations, rather than keeping it a game for 'normal people' and making everyone conform to what they perceive as 'normal'.

"If everyone who plays the game is physically the same or has to conform to rigid ways of playing it then it will become a very boring game," he said.

The champion bowler could not also digest how the tolerance figure would take it into account a fast bowler delivering a slower one.

"They talk of tolerances, 10 degrees for fast bowlers and so on, but what happens when a fast bowler sends down a slower ball with the same action, that is to say with 10 degrees of flexion?"

Murali said it has been proved that his arm speed is quicker than that of Pakistani pacer Shabbir Ahmed. He also cited the example of great Indian leggie Bhagwat Chandrasekhar whose arm speed was one of the features of his action.

"Sometimes he bowled at 80 to 90 miles an hour. It has to be accepted that different people bowl differently."

Chandra's bowling arm had been withered by polio, yet he claimed almost 250 Test wickets - in the field he threw with his left arm.

"I would like to see every bowler tested in the same way that I have been, in 3D, in a scientific environment, then the authorities should collate all the results and decide on a standard tolerance level that would apply evenly across the board and encompass every bowler, fast, medium and slow.

"People say cricket is a gentleman's game but I think at the moment it is not a gentleman's game at all," he said.

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