Cricket: Spinner's action under scrutiny

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The Independent Online
SRI LANKAN spinner Muttiah Muralitharan faces a match against England in Adelaide next Saturday which may prove decisive for his career.

Muralitharan's whippy action is again under the spotlight in Australia, although Carlton and United series referee Peter van der Merwe insists there have been no complaints.

The bowler, who has signed to play for Lancashire next season, was no- balled by umpire Ross Emerson in a one-day international in early 1996. And Emerson will be standing in the England v Sri Lanka day-night match along with Tony McQuillan, who was Emerson's partner in the match three years ago.

At least two Australian umpires are believed to have expressed doubts about Muralitharan's action.

"If there is somebody with an action that is curious then you talk about it in the normal course of events," said former South African Test captain Van der Merwe.

"Umpires and the referee discuss things that happen on the cricket field, but there has been no complaint. I've got an opinion but it would be wrong of me to make that public at the moment. This whole thing is being media- led. I expected it to come up again because Murali, with his action, is always going to invoke comment."

Van der Merwe must file a routine report at the end of the tournament, when he can comment on Muralitharan's bowling style.

The International Cricket Council has an advisory panel on the subject of bowling actions which includes Kapil Dev, Michael Holding, John Reid and Bob Simpson.

If a bowler's action is considered suspect he is filmed and video copies are sent to committee members to scrutinise.

Muralitharan was no-balled seven times by Australian Darrell Hair in the Melbourne Test on Boxing Day in 1996. Hair voluntarily stood down from officiating in Sri Lanka's matches in the current event.