New rules will increase variety: Buchanan

Published: Friday, November 12, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore:Proposed changes to cricket's throwing laws have found an ally in Australian Test coach John Buchanan.

Buchanan bucked the Australian tide of criticism of world governing body ICC's controversial reforms saying he felt the plans to soften the laws would help increase the variety of deliveries in world cricket.

The radical-thinking Aussie Test coach said the International Cricket Council's recommendation that all bowlers be allowed to straighten their arms by up to 15 degrees would add a new dimension to the game.

"I believe it's exciting what Murali (Muttiah Muralitharan), Harbhajan (Singh) and Shoaib (Akhtar), and whoever else that has been under investigation, what they do in their bowling," Buchanan said here Friday.

"If bowlers can actually increase the variety of the type of deliveries they can bowl then that's a good thing for the game because that means batsmen have got to counter that with their own skills.

"It may mean that captains have got something else to work with.

"In a sense I think there's a real gain in it if it's handled correctly."

Buchanan's opposing comments come after an outcry by former and current Australian players against the recommendation, which is set to be passed by the ICC Executive Members in Melbourne next February.

It is also at odds with opinions expressed by his own players who criticised the need to change the current tolerance levels that allow between only five degrees (spinners) and 10 degrees (fast bowlers) of flexion at the elbow.

Australia's leading fast bowler Glen McGrath said he was disappointed with the ICC recommendation.

"I don't like it when they tamper with the game," he said. "I'd hate to see the rules change too much and all of a sudden in 100 years it's a different game."

Buchanan admitted the changes may see promising bowlers further push the extended boundaries of chucking but he had no problem with that so long as it was appropriately policed.

Muralitharan, at the centre of cricket's most vexing question since first being no-balled in the Melbourne Boxing Day Test against Australian nine years ago, staunchly defended himself on Australia radio this week, saying 99 percent of bowlers flexed illegally.

"Some bowlers from Australia, McGrath and everybody, they are all doing about 12, 13 (degrees)," said the Sri Lankan, second to Shane Warne on the all-time wicket-taking list with 532 wickets.

But there is no guarantee the rubber-wristed spinner's controversial "doosra" will escape penalty if the new laws are passed.

Muralitharan's wrong 'un was tested at 14 degrees earlier this year after he was reported in Sri Lanka's 3-0 home series loss to Australia.

Former Australian off-spinner Tim May, a representative on the six-man ICC panel which made the recommendation, said improved technology and more stringent protocols would be in place next year.

May said the developments would make for significant differences in testing.

"If a bowler has been previously (rated below 15 degrees) through testing he wouldn't able to wave a piece of paper around saying I'm cleared," he said.

But May did confirm all bowlers "start off fresh" with reports for suspect actions the responsibility of umpires and match referees.

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