Wed, Nov 17, 2004 - Page 19 News List

ICC, Murali's chucking allegations cause uproar

AGENCIES , WELLINGTON AND MELBOURNE

The International Cricket Council's (ICC) assertion that greats such as Sir Richard Hadlee, Dennis Lillee and Imran Khan threw the ball is "grossly insulting and degrading to the history of cricket," former New Zealand wicketkeeper Ian Smith charged yesterday.

"The trio would have been utterly shocked with such allegations. To be heaped with praise over the years and having been named in the best teams in the world and then be called a chucker is an absolute insult," he said.

Cricket Australia also defended three of their top pace bowlers on Monday after Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan accused them of bowling illegal deliveries.

An ICC committee of former Test players, supported by scientific equipment, found that almost every international bowler straight-ened his arm at some stage in their delivery and recommended a rule allowing bowlers to straighten their arms by up to 15 degrees.

The ICC committee found that even Steve Harmison, Glenn McGrath and Shaun Pollock are chuckers under existing rules, while Lillee, Khan, Hadlee, Fred Trueman and Ian Botham also threw the ball.

"The use of scientists has transgressed the rules to the letter of the law by degrading not only fast bowling but also Hadlee, Lillee and company who have been purists and models for bowlers," Smith said.

Smith, who played 63 Tests and 98 one-day internationals for New Zealand from 1980 to 1992, added that it was a "ludicrous system now that is pointing fingers at great bowlers with flippant comments."

He did not agree that the proposal to allow up to a 15-degree of bending of the bowling arm could mean injecting some excitement and entertainment into a code notorious for its rigid rules.

"Allowing bowlers to chuck the ball will also mean the dismissal of batsmen. Why should the batsmen be on the receiving end?" he said.

As a TV broadcaster, Smith and fellow commentator and former New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney caused a furore in the 2002 season when they aired their concerns about the legitimacy of the bowling action of Black Caps pace bowler Kyle Mills.

He said television played a major role in detecting illegitimate actions, as in the case of Pakistani quick Shoaib Akhtar.

Muralitharan's doosra delivery was outlawed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last May after a report concluded that the Sri Lankan bent his arm during delivery and so threw the ball.

At present, spinners are permitted five degrees of bend, medium pacers 7.5 and fast bowlers 10. Muralitharan's doosra was initially measured at around 14 degrees.

However last week an ICC bowling committee recommended that all bowlers be allowed to straighten their arms by up to 15 degrees, prompting Muralitharan to say he had been put under unfair scrutiny because of his haul of 532 test wickets.

"[Glenn] McGrath is bowling about 13 [degrees], [Jason] Gillespie about 12 and Brett Lee about 14 or 15," Muralitharan said on Monday in a radio interview.

"So what about them then, the Australian players?" added the second-leading Test wicket-taker who has twice been called for "throwing" in Australia and refused to tour the country this year.

However, Cricket Australia (CA) said it was a "gross distortion" to label the trio as "chuckers" based on the ICC's report which found that the laws of nature meant all bowlers flex their arms to an extent upon delivery.

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