ICC hits back at Crowe ~~chucking~~ attack

Published: Friday, July 14, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:The International Cricket Council (ICC) has insisted that it had not gone soft on bowlers with suspect actions after former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe called on officials to make sure "chuckers" were "chucked out" of the sport.

Changes to international regulations in 2005 brought about by investigations into controversial Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan's action mean elite bowlers are now allowed a maximum of 15 degrees of straightening in delivery.

But Crowe, giving the Marylebone Cricket Club's Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's on Tuesday, said: "If with the naked eye a bowler is clearly chucking - even by one degree - he should be chucked out."

Crowe's speech also included a thinly-veiled attack on Muralitharan when he said he'd been "dubiously bowled in a Test by a certain Sri Lankan bowler".

But ICC's general manager of cricket, David Richardson, defended the current system, based on a review involving West Indies pace great Michael Holding and ex-England seamer Angus Fraser.

"The facts are that some bowlers, even those never suspected of having flawed actions, were found likely to be straightening their arms by 11 or 12 degrees," Richardson said in a statement issued from the ICC's Dubai headquarters.

"And at the same time, some bowlers that may appear to be throwing may be hyper-extending or bowl with permanently bent elbows," the former South Africa wicket-keeper added.

"Under a strict interpretation of the Law they were breaking the rules but if we ruled out every bowler that did that then there would be no bowlers left.

"The game needed to deal with that reality and the current regulations do just that," said Richardson of a process where the 15-degree mark was determined as the point at which 'throwing' became visible to the naked eye.

Crowe also said Test cricket was being undermined by the presence of minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

"Bangladesh has taken time to adjust to the demands of Test cricket but that mirrors the experience of every side that has stepped up to the top level," said Richardson.

"Zimbabwe has already stepped back from its Test commitments to allow itself time to regroup and we are keen to help it in that process in any way we can."

Only Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne has taken more than 34-year-old Muralitharan's 635 Test wickets.

But the Sri Lankan's career has been dogged by rows over the legitimacy of his unique action and two years ago his 'doosra' delivery was reported by match referee Chris Broad, the former England opening batsman, a decision that sparked the review which led to the regulation changes.

Among those reported under the new process are Harbhajan Singh of India, Pakistan's Shabbir Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, Jermaine Lawson of the West Indies and Johan Botha of South Africa.

Ahmed is currently serving a one year suspension after being found to have a flawed action twice within a two year period.

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