Ball in Pigeon's court

Everyone's career must come to an end. Whether McGrath is finished can only be decided by the paceman himself.

It hasn't taken long for some of Australia's new ball bowlers of somewhat recent times to write Glenn McGrath off. The fast bowlers union has certainly broken down and it is a shame to see such public figures being so strident in their criticism of McGrath.

Everyone's career, no matter how good he is, must come to an end. Whether McGrath is finished can only be decided by Glenn himself. Pigeon, still, is a bowler with impeccable credentials.

No one in my experience has ever been a better line and length bowler. He has forced the best of batsmen into error and bowled Australia into winning positions.

As great as Shane Warne is, he has been helped immensely by McGrath's ability to get rid of the top order. Warne, thus, has had the golden opportunity of bowling to the middle and the lower order on numerous occasions.

I believe McGrath has at least one or two seasons still left in him. He will be aided in his quest to stay as long as he can, for, at this time none of the younger brigade can match his wicket-taking ability, even if he is not as penetrative as he once was.

He will not be happy with his efforts against South Africa with only four wickets from 133 overs at an average of 40.63, but he retains his position as one of Australia's premier bowlers.

The worrying factor for Australia is that the strike bowlers have all been more expensive than normal. Against South Africa, the great Shane Warne conceded 34 runs for every wicket he took and went for 4.74 per over. Brett Lee went for an incredible 5.93 per over, but took a wicket at a very respectable rate of 10.23 overs. Both Lee's and Warne's bowling average was over 32 runs per wicket.

If this rate continues then the selectors must look at their future. But, right now, they are the best.

It hasn't taken long for the ICC's testing procedure — to decide whether a suspect bowler's action is okay — to come under pressure. The procedure, whereby suspect bowlers were reported rather than judged on the spot in a match, was always going to be a problem area.

In the clinical atmosphere of a scientific laboratory, the bowler, if he wanted, could bowl differently to what he might do in a match. To me, the only fair way would be to have the technical personnel to film and judge the suspect bowling when he is under pressure in a game.

But the scientists say that this is impossible to do and only specially set cameras can produce the results needed. Unfortunately, this is not good enough and Bruce Elliott, the expert who examined and passed Muralitharan in 2004, has now publicly stated that the Sri Lankan is now bowling some 30 kmph faster than when he was scrutinised. Elliott has suggested that the international umpires should closely examine Muralitharan again.

This is most confusing to this old timer who has watched Murali very closely throughout his career and his pace looks the same. This begs the question as to why Murali was allowed to bowl 30 kmph slower when he was tested and whether any checks were made of the speed he normally bowls in, in a match, before the test?

Bruce Yardley, a former Sri Lankan coach, acted during the trials as an independent observer to ensure the spinner's action replicated his normal match technique. I can understand 5 to 10 kmph, but 30 is a huge difference.

Unfortunately, if a bowler's action is passed by the scientists, umpires are very reluctant to take action on the field.

The 15-degree allowable elbow bend is also causing much heartache in many countries. Greg Chappell, at the end of India's series in Pakistan, also has had his penny's worth by suggesting that both Murali and Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar's actions should be re-examined.

The ICC must re-examine the whole question again, particularly the 15-degree elbow allowance, before the game is flooded with bent elbow chuckers posing as bowlers.

If the ICC's experts cannot come up with the equipment to judge a suspect bowler's action on the field, the matter should be put squarely into the hands of the umpires. It is not that hard a call and umpires must be as quick to decide whether the ball has been bowled or thrown, as when asked to decide whether the batsman got a fine edge or the ball that has hit the pads would have gone on into the stumps.

Umpires have been let down by officials in the past when they have made the difficult no ball call.

Good umpires can handle the chucking issue if they know they will be supported at the official level.