Boycott hits out at bowling decision

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The Independent Online

Geoffrey Boycott has criticised the recommendation to the International Cricket Council to permit bowlers to straighten their bowling arm by up to 15 degrees, instead of the 10 degrees for fast bowlers and five for spinners currently allowed. The former England opener said the rules were being altered to accommodate Muttiah Muralitharan, the controversial Sri Lankan spinner.

Geoffrey Boycott has criticised the recommendation to the International Cricket Council to permit bowlers to straighten their bowling arm by up to 15 degrees, instead of the 10 degrees for fast bowlers and five for spinners currently allowed. The former England opener said the rules were being altered to accommodate Muttiah Muralitharan, the controversial Sri Lankan spinner.

The legitimacy of Muralitharan's unique bowling action has been questioned by many and earlier this year, after being reported for throwing, he was found to straighten his arm by 14 degrees when sending down his "doosra". Muralitharan was told by the ICC that he could be banned from Test cricket if he continued to bowl the delivery.

"It is a sad day for cricket," said Boycott. "I think it has been brought in through pressure from Sri Lanka and Muralitharan's supporters to allow him to carry on bowling anything he wants."

Boycott's views are misguided, and as part of the ICC sub-committee which has made this recommendation, I find it disappointing that he has come to this conclusion. Muralitharan was mentioned during our meetings, but so were several other bowlers and we came to our decision after considering the information we were given by specialists in the field of biomechanics and through what we witnessed on the screens placed in front of us.

Technology, particularly in the quality of the cameras used, continues to improve and more and more can be seen on television. These views increase speculation on the legitimacy of bowlers' actions but do not mean there are more throwers in the modern game.

A lot of older players think bowlers of their generation had pure actions, where the arm remained straight. This is naïve. If current bowlers with text-book actions - Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock and Stephen Harmison, for example - have been shown to straighten their bowling arm by 10 degrees then surely the level for illegal actions must be increased.

Fifteen degrees is the minimum movement which can be seen by the naked eye. If an umpire feels he can see a bowler throw, he reports him. If this is proved in a laboratory then he is banned from the game until his action has been rectified.

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