Review of illegal bowling actions: Boycott silenced

Michael Roberts


  Pics from Kushil Gunasekera –also see Roberts, Essaying Cricket,   2006.

The MCC has a separate Committee to oversee cricketing rules. This is independent of the ICC and only serves in an advisory capacity. It is constituted wholly of players and umpires; and in the MCC view is meant to balance the influence of cricketing administrators whose experience of the game may not be deeply first hand. Note, too, that the MCC still has control over the laws of cricket . Thus, Wikpedia has this note under the subject: “Although MCC remains the framer and copyright holder of the Laws of Cricket, this role is becoming increasingly under pressure as the ICC seeks to exercise control over all aspects of the world game. In recent times the ICC has begun instituting changes to match regulations (e.g., in One Day Internationals (ODIs)) without much consultation with MCC. Also, in moving its location from Lord’s to Dubai, the ICC gave a signal of breaking with the past and from MCC, although tax benefits withdrawn by the then UK Government may have had much to do with this. Changes to the laws of cricket are still made by MCC, but quite rightly only after consultation with the ICC. Nevertheless, any changes to the laws still require a two-thirds majority vote by MCC full members.

    The MCC Committee was assembled in Perth on the 13th and 14th December prior to the Test Match in the Ashes series. Though such members as Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble were not able to attend, the gathering included such eminent personnel as Majid Khan, Tony Lewis, Alex Stewart, Mike Atherton, Michael Brearley, Martin Crowe, Steve Waugh, Tony Dodemaide, Courtney Walsh, Steve Bucknor and Geoff Boycott. The meetings were chaired by the MCC President, Martin-Jenkins and the main focus was the topic of “illegal bowling actions.”

  The School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, University of Western Australia (UWA) had been asked to address the Committee on this issue and they chose to provide video and other evidence on their examination of Muttiah Muralitharan’s bowling action.

    At the outset they were confronted by an aggressive Geoffrey Boycott who was clearly convinced that Murali threw and, being Boycott, was not afraid to say so. Drs Jacqueline Alderson and Bruce Elliott, however, were not disconcerted by all this and their measured answers completely silenced boycott.   

    One must recall, here, that presentations by biomechanical experts such as Elliott, Hurion and Portus at a critical ICC Meeting in Dubai several years back had convinced diehard hardliners — such as Michael Molding –that virtually all bowlers flexed their elbows a trifle and that the only practical measure was a that of 15 degrees (rather than a tiered scheme for different types of bowlers).

    This, I repeat, was several years back. Boycott must have been in some cave in Yorkshire for several years. He also seemed to be unaware of the TV presentations of Murali bowling the doosra with a brace that did not permit elbow bending.

             Dr Dhillon’s brace examination — preliminary testing   

Boycott is not alone. Serendipitously, the “Cricket Show” today, Tuesday 28th December, featured Murali. I caught only the latter part of it, but from Simon O’DonnellSs statements it appears that there are a few people who still think that the no-ball by chucking rule was altered simply to favour Murali. One can assume that these few are mostly Australian, though a bloke called Bishen Bedi must also be part of these fossilized species of being.

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