Given the carte blanche to punish the bowlers for abusing Law 24.2 (Fairness –arm) of the Laws of Cricket, a handful of umpires in India have swung into action. Nothing in the MCC Laws of Cricket prevented the umpires to come down heavily on the bowlers practicing their art in an unfair manner and to the detriment of the game.
All these years they took their respective positions on the field with their heart in the mouth. The clampdown order from BCCI has straightaway made the umpires vigilant and deal with the situation hands-on and severely.
Keen to clear the mess, the BCCI embarked upon to videograph all first class matches, set up a bowling review committee comprising S.Venkatraghavan, Javagal Srinath and Arani Jayaprakash, spotted the offenders and put them on notice.
On the basis of the last two seasons investigation the BCCI prepared a long list of bowlers with illegal action of varied degrees and passed around the list to the match officials.
The BCCI outlined a procedure and soon things began to fall apart for a few teams. Asked to dismantle the major parts of their bowling unit the captains and coaches of Baroda, Gujarat, and Railways are feeling the pinch.
On Wednesday Sarandeep Singh and Himachal Pradesh became hot under the collar when umpire Sanjeeva Rao brought to book the off-spinner of 11 years experience in first class cricket and with 90 matches and 300 odd wickets.
Sarandeep who began his career for Delhi and has been capped by India three times and fielded in five one-day internationals has been named in the initial list of 32 players with suspect action with a 0-15 % defect.
While a few umpires have been bold to perform their duties without fear, many have been reluctant to punish the offenders of the specific law. A note signed by Messrs. Venkatraghavan, Srinath and Jayaprakash says that the umpires, should they fail to implement recommended actions against the bowlers who continue to bowl with suspect action, would be banned for the season.
In the Super League match between Tamil Nadu and Gujarat played at Ahmedabad, umpires M.S.Pathak and Vinit Kulkarni did not deem it fit to bring a halt to the bowling of Mohnish Parmar or Siddharth Trivedi. It’s understood that the umpires cautioned Parthiv Patel from employing Parmar in the course of his 18 overs in four spells. The 21-year-old off spinner was called for chucking in the C.K.Nayudu Under-22 match.
First placed in the 0-15 % defect category, a further investigation at the NCA, Bangalore revealed a 19 degree extension of the elbow, which according to the BCCI falls in the ‘proven chucker’ category and whose action could not be rectified during the rehabilitation period. The State selectors dropped Parmar for the match against Hyderabad, but retained Trivedi who was added to the suspect action list after the match against Orissa.
In an interview to The Sportstar recently, Srinath had said that the umpires are inefficient, are not doing their job and are scared of calling bowlers for chucking. Many years ago former England fast bowler Frank Tyson felt that the bowlers with illegal action should be nipped at junior cricket itself while former Australian captain Bob Simpson stated that the naked eyes should be able to spot a chucker.
Well, the BCCI seems to be moving in the right direction empowering the umpires officiating in junior cricket to weed out the menace and also advise the umpires to trust their eyes to penalise a bowler with suspect action.
The Ranji Trophy season 2009-10 is only into the third round and some teams have already got the shock treatment. But there’s also been some good news for teams like Tamil Nadu and Mumbai. Left arm spinners Aushik Srinivas (16) and Harmeet Singh (17) have emerged with displays that promise a bright future for them.
With Karnataka’s Appanna having already caught the attention and Mumbai’s Gaurav Jathar also in the picture, Indian cricket is assured of a good crop of left arm spin department and a healthy competition. It’s extremely bleak in the off-spin department though.