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Forget doosra for sometime: Shivlal Yadav

By Our Special Correspondent

Harbhajan Singh ... in the news again.

NEW DELHI, DEC. 21. Hours of training in his home town Jalandhar, bowling close to 75-100 deliveries a day during the off-season, have not helped Harbhajan Singh convince some officials of his legitimacy when bowling the doosra, the ball that leaves the right-handed batsman.

Being reported for this wicket-taking delivery may have come as a blow to Harbhajan's efforts to master the ball that Erapalli Prasanna once bowled with an incredibly clean action.

"It's sad that Harbhajan has been reported for the second time. I haven't watched him consistently and hence I'm not in a position to comment on his action. The umpires and the Match Referee are the best to judge. They may have seen something to report him but it would be difficult for me to judge Harbhajan's action," said Prasanna, who finished with 189 wickets in 49 Tests apart from 957 wickets in first-class cricket.

Incidentally, Prasanna had accompanied Harbhajan to London in 1998 when the off-spinner, in his debut season, was first reported and underwent corrective measures suggested by former England cricketer Fred Titmus.

Former Test off-spinner Shivlal Yadav, who claimed 102 wickets in 35 Tests, wanted Harbhajan to concentrate on his bowling without worrying about the complaint from the umpires — Aleem Dar and Mark Benson. "I don't understand the problem when the ICC had cleared him in the past and corrective measures had been made. I think except that ball (doosra) he looks okay. In any case, not bowling that one ball will not take away much from his bowling because he thinks the batsman out. He is a far more matured bowler now who plans the batsman out. If questions are being raised then he should just ignore the delivery. Personally, I think he should just forget this delivery for sometime. He doesn't need it because he has his off-spinners to trouble the batsman. Why invite controversy by trying to bowl the doosra until the authorities are convinced," said Yadav from Hyderabad.

In the opinion of former Test batsman Mohinder Amarnath, the latest episode was hardly going to make any difference to the controversy surrounding bowlers with suspect action. "First of all I don't believe in the way this issue is being dealt with. What is this degree business. When he has been cleared in the past why this process again. Why pinpoint just Harbhajan or Muralitharan when many with suspect action are bowling in international cricket. It is a wicket-taking ball for Harbhajan and he can't be denied it. If you can clear Murali to bowl the same ball then why not Harbhajan? I would appreciate if a panel of eminent umpires, not former cricketers, is formed to tackle this problem. Personally, I would like Harbhajan to concentrate on his bowling because nothing will come out of this complaint. In the past too bowlers were reported but they all have been bowling freely," said Mohinder, who played 69 Tests.

Best judge

Former Test opener Aunshuman Gaekwad, with an experience of 40 Tests, said, "Either a bowler has a clean action or he throws. There can't be any degree business in it and in my opinion there is nothing wrong with Harbhajan's action. Can't the umpires be wrong? Do they realise what kind of impact such a complaint can have on his attitude. It is just a surprise ball and in any case it's not the only ball that gets Harbhajan wickets. In this case, Harbhajan is the best judge. He knows whether he bowls it with a clean action or not. Harbhajan should not take a chance if he knows he is not bowling it with a legitimate action. I would leave the matter to him," said Gaekwad, who was also the India coach for two years.

Don't discard doosra

Former Test opener Chetan Chauhan, who played 40 Tests, advised Harbhajan not to discard the doosra. He said, "Harbhajan should continue bowling the doosra. He has only been reported and not `called'. So why this concern all over! It's an important ball for him and he bowls it once or twice in an over. This development may upset him but I would prefer Harbhajan to continue bowling it. His action is clean and he can work on it if at all the ICC finds faults. If I was Harbhajan, I would not be unduly concerned about it."

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