Cricket’s governing body on Monday announced plans to introduce wearable technology usually found in iPads to scrutinize bowlers with suspect actions.
The initiative would see “inertial sensors” attached to the bowler’s arm to assess the legality of his action.
The actions of several current and recently retired bowlers have come into question after the International Cricket Council (ICC) allowed a tolerance limit of 15 degrees’ bend to the bowling arm — a relaxation questioned in some quarters.
The ICC has announced that it is willing to invest in bowling-action technology.
“The ICC has entered the second phase of an agreement with a consortium of high-profile Australian cricket, sports science and sports engineering institutions to develop a wearable technology to assess the legality of bowling actions in match and training conditions,” an ICC statement read.
Retired pacemen Brett Lee of Australia and Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar, as well as Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, have all had their actions questioned, but were cleared on the basis of tolerance limit or existing arm-joint deformity.
India’s Harbhajan Singh and Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal are two high-profile current bowlers whose actions have come under scrutiny on several occasions.
The ICC said it was working to address the problem.
“The ICC is now working with experts to produce a process capable of measuring bowlers’ actions in a match environment,” it said. “Known as inertial sensors, they employ similar technology to that used in iPads, mobile phones and car crash impact detection systems. It is planned the technology will be light, cost-effective and wearable on the bowler’s arm, and will not hinder performance, while still allowing information about the throw-like features of an illegal action to be assessed in near real-time in both match and training environments.”
Bowlers who have been reported by umpires with a suspicious illegal bowling action are currently required to attend an ICC-approved biomechanics laboratory to assess the amount of elbow extension in their bowling action, the ICC said.
“The second phase of the three-phase project will conclude in late 2013, and is concerned with the technology’s measurement methods and precision against current laboratory protocols,” the ICC said.
From 2014, the focus will be on making the technology more comfortable for players.
ICC chief executive David Richardson said his organization is eager to see the technology put to use.
“The ICC is keen to see this technology implemented in elite cricket and believes it will be a significant stride forward in detecting illegal bowling actions in match conditions,” Richardson said. “We are encouraged by the progress made so far by the Australian research team and also acknowledge [rule-makers] the MCC [Marylebone Cricket Club], who have made a significant financial contribution to the project.”