No witch-hunt against Murali: Richardson

Published: Friday, July 30, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Birmingham:International Cricket Council (ICC) general manager David Richardson insisted there would be "no witch-hunt" against Muttiah Muralitharan as he unveiled plans to carry out research into slow bowlers' actions.

The research comes following renewed controversy over the unusual action of Sri Lankan off-spinner Muralitharan.

But Richardson insisted the sole aim was to help gather information for the ICC which would then decide whether changes were needed to current regulations.

"We're not out here on a witch-hunt," former South Africa wicketkeeper Richardson said at Edgbaston.

"Murali's is a very complicated case. It's not right that we should make laws that are specifically designed for him."

The research will start on Friday during the second Test between England and West Indies at Edgbaston and continue throughout September's Champions Trophy One-day tournament in England, featuring all the world's leading sides.

Results will be submitted to the ICC who could, in November at the earliest, announce changes to regulations as a result.

Murali, now the world's leading Test wicket-taker, alongside Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne with 527 dismissals, has twice been no-balled for 'throwing' during his career.

He missed the recent tour of Australia, following comments from Australian Prime Minister John Howard that he was a chucker.

Muralitharan came under fresh scrutiny because of the 'doosra', a delivery which spins away from right-handers instead of coming into them a like normal off-break.

He was warned he could be banned from international cricket for a year if he persisted with the delivery in its original form.

Although the Laws of Cricket allow no straightening of the arm at the moment of delivery, the ICC has said that is physically impossible.

Instead it has set tolerance limits that currently stand at five degrees for spinners, 7.5 for medium-pacers and 10 for pacemen.

Cameras filming at 250 frames per second will be installed at grounds during the Champions Trophy in a bid to create three-dimensional computer images of bowlers' actions.

Richardson added ICC were not looking at faster bowlers because they were happy with the current tolerance levels.

In a separate development, Richardson confirmed umpires during the Champions Trophy would wear ear-pieces allowing them to hear the stump microphone.

The aim is to assist decision making with catches close to the wicket.

He added that during the Champions Trophy no balls would be called by the third umpire who would then communicate a decision to his on-field colleagues.

"We want umpires to concentrate on the business (batsman's) end decisions," said Richardson of a scheme already trialed in his native South Africa.

Matches played in the August One-day tri-series tournament between Australia, India and Pakistan in Holland will be used to test the process.

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