~~Spinner without doosra is like AK147 without bullet~~

Published: Thursday, May 26, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Pakistan's forgotten champion spinner Saqlain Mushtaq has said it was a shame that leading finger spinners were banned from bowling 'doosra' and added that he was contemplating remodeling his bowling action to take extra advantage from the controversial 15-degree rule.

"I think it's sad and shameful that spinners like Muthiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan Singh and Shoaib Malik have been banned from bowling doosra. To me, if the spin trio is allowed to bowl in international cricket, then they should be entitled to bowl doosra," Saqlain, who invented the mystery bowl that goes the other way and was named doosra by wicketkeeper Moin Khan, said at his Tooting residence in South-West of London.

"A crafty off-spinner disallowed to bowl doosra is like having an AK147 without bullets," Saqlain said while sympathising with the spin kings Muralitharan and Harbhajan.

Saqlain then raised the million dollar question: "What I don't understand is that why create all this confusion over 15 degree rule and doosra after Muralitharan has already played for over 10 years and Harbhajan has spent nearly seven years in international arena.

"I remember no question marks were raised over Muralitharan's bowling action when he was not taking wickets in his early days. But, as soon as he started mesmerising the batsmen and taking wickets, laws came in place and fingers started to point at him.

"I presume Harbhajan became a victim of circumstances and came in spotlight after taking lots of wickets and after pressure mounted on the game's governing body to combat bowlers with suspect actions," he said.

Saqlain wondered what would happen if any of the trio bowled doosra and picked up wicket(s) and that too at crucial stage of the game.

"In the last 30 months, I have played just two One-dayers (in 2003 World Cup) and a Test against India (at Multan in March 2004) which indicates that I may be short of knowledge and understanding of the (15 degree) law.

"But whatever I have been reading and hearing is that the International Cricket Council (ICC) have banned them (Muralitharan, Harbhajan and Shoaib Malik) from bowling doosra. Now what will happen if they (ICC) find out after the conclusion of a big match that any of the trio turned the match on its head by claiming the decisive wicket (s) off doosra?

"As far as I am concerned, the square-leg umpire should have the powers to adjudicate if the delivery was legal or not? Why not trust the eye and the judgement of the umpires. After all, we have an elite panel of umpire that comprise best of the best," he said.

Saqlain, who took 208 Test and 288 One-day wickets, is out of action after undergoing surgeries on both his knees that had ulcers. He has started brisk walk and bowled in a couple of friendly games in London but fielded in slips to avoid running as he plans a comeback in the near future.

The irony is that Saqlain's entire treatment and rehabilitation is being done under the supervision of Surrey County while the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) probably does not even remember that a spinner by this masterminded many of Pakistan's great victories and brought immense honour for the country.

Saqlain said he would also try and remodel his bowling action because the new rule could give him added advantage.

"I might undergo a bowling action test and if possible, would try to remodel my bowling action by bending my arm upto 15 degrees because the luxury of bending arm (upto 15 degrees) would definitely give me an extra spinning advantage."

The ICC has maintained that the new 15 degree limit was the point at which straightening becomes visible to the naked eye.

But Prof Bruce Elliott, the Perth-based biomechanics expert who has worked with the ICC in the research on bowling actions, claims umpires on field can spot bending up to 10 degrees.

"They (ICC) have technical people and if they are claiming, it must be right. But I don't understand how they can determine if the arm had bent at 14 degrees and not at 18 degrees," Saqlain quizzed, adding "we must not forget that there is a very thin line between 14 degrees and 18 degrees but the consequences can be different."

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