The issue of suspect actions

It is better for a cricketer to be told early in his career if he is guilty of doing something wrong. This will enable him to unlearn the wrong things and practice his craft in the right possible manner.

The ICC has at last decided to do something about bowlers with suspect action. The umpires and referees have been active in recent times, which is good for the game. Saeed Ajmal has been suspended as his flex was way beyond the permissible limit. Of course, there were some reactions but at the end of the day, Ajmal has started to work on his action rather than resorting to sulk.

It is rather strange that some bowlers don’t accept the verdict as it should be. Agreed that humiliation, embarrassment and ego all come into the equation, but the very essence of sport is to accept the official verdict, which is decided on the laws of the game. A bowler with a more pronounced flex than the others will be aware of it and therefore, the onus is on him to acknowledge the problem and work to rectify the flaw.

The ICC has been guilty of being indifferent to the presence of bowlers with suspect actions thus far, but as they say it is better late than never. Ajmal getting reported and the subsequent suspension will enhance the credibility of the ICC. It is not about how much deviation from the norm can be ignored, but it should be a case of zero tolerance. It is alright to be noble up to a point, but inaction does breed courage in a few individuals to challenge the system.

The game does need the intrigue and subtlety that spinners bring into play, but they need to ensure that they conform to the law of the game. The problem is generally with the finger spinners who tend to flex the elbow more when they try to extract extra life off the surface. Leg spinners are fortunate in the sense that the dynamics of their craft don’t allow them to get into trouble.

The ICC can perhaps show some leniency to the spinners in the ways the other laws of the game are framed. For example, the law of just four fielders in the outer ring in the ODI’s does make it difficult for the spinners to either restrict or pick up wickets on tracks that are tailor-made for batsmen. In addition, this tough proposition forces the spinners to try and extract a lot more off the surface resulting in the exaggerated flex of the elbow.

The ICC should strongly suggest to its affiliates to be vigilant about bowlers with suspect actions in their respective domestic circuits. I for one feel that it is better to prevent the malady at the domestic level as things can go out of hand when a bowler at the international level gets reported. Be that as it may, the recent events will deter the ones who are taking a chance despite them being aware of their elbow flexing a lot. It is a matter of self assessment as well, as there are enough tools available for a cricketer to analyse his own game.

The young cricketers look up to their coaches/mentors for guidance and it is of paramount importance that coaches give the right feedback to their wards. The tendency of some coaches to allow a cricketer to continue practising the wrong things lands everyone in a muddle. The final result is the tug of war between the administrators of various bodies, but the ultimate loser is the cricketer.

It is better for a cricketer to be told early in his career if he is guilty of doing something wrong. This will enable him to unlearn the wrong things and practice his craft in the right possible manner. In as much as the ICC needs to be forthright, the coaches and administrators at the junior levels need to ensure that cricketers don’t disregard the laws of the game.