The NCA should set up facilities to help trainees work on their action, writes Makarand Waingankar

‘Once a chucker, always a chucker’ is a famous cricketing maxim.

Yet with the amendment to the law, bowlers with the permissible 15 degrees are allowed to bowl. Now the BCCI reportedly identified more than a dozen bowlers with suspect action in the Ranji Trophy this season. Obviously, these bowlers must have crossed the 15-degree limit.

At a time when the BCCI is making an all-out effort to professionalise Indian cricket by getting franchisees to pump in millions of dollars, the process of having the bowlers to have legitimate bowling action is being ignored.

In fact, one off-spinner who was banned by the ICC’s Bowling Review Group in the Under-19 World Cup in 2005 is making batsmen dance to his tune in the Ranji Trophy with the same action. But his association claims his action has been rectified and approved by the NCA.

There had been debate some years ago about whether a bowler’s action can be rectified. And after the rectification, can the bowler be effective? The unanimous answer was no bowler has been effective after rectification in his action. This led to the question of whether this bowler has bowled with the rectified action or the original action, and the answer was he has bowled with his original action. Why then make a fuss about the action?

Tricky situation

All the former off-spin bowlers that I have interacted are of the opinion that no off-spinner can bowl the doosra with legitimate action. Yet, we applaud a bowler who gets his wickets with it. It’s a fact that this type of delivery has finished off the generation of genuine off-spin bowling in India, and at the junior level one comes across a teenage off-spinner trying to perfect his doosra rather than work on other varieties that will fetch him more wickets.

There is a ludicrous explanation given by most of the umpires for not calling a bowler for chucking while bowling the doosra. It’s harmless, they say. So you have harmful and harmless chuckers in Indian cricket. The umpires tend to overlook the fact that by letting the bowlers bowl with suspect action, they are putting batsmen under tremendous pressure. By sympathising with bowlers, the umpires are allowing unfair advantage to them, thereby putting careers of batsmen in jeopardy.

The problem bowlers with suspect action face is the technology required to work on the action is not with the National Cricket Academy. The methodology used by the Western Australia University is the best and unless we adopt that methodology, Indian bowlers will continue to bowl with the original action as the action will not be clear with a normal camera.

The NCA should set up facilities like those with the Western Australia University, as that would help trainees work on their action. Last season, bowlers who were referred to the NCA for suspect bowling action have been cleared, but not having their action assessed properly, the bowlers have returned to first class cricket with the original action.

Another problem umpires have been concerned about is bowlers running on the wicket. Not being cautioned in club or office cricket, the medium pacers keep running in the danger area and when in a first class game they are warned, they have no solution to get off that area. The bowler then begins to bowl away from the stumps, but it makes him less penetrative.

Not many State coaches are qualified enough to know the solution to these problems. With Balwinder Singh Sandhu opting to be with the ICL, we are left with only one experienced fast bowling coach in MRF Pace Foundation’s T.A. Sekar whose inputs in sorting out these two major problems could be utilised by the NCA for the State coaches. The cause for concern is indubitable. The earlier it is addressed, the better it will be for the bowlers.

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