Meckiff – Murali – and now Johan Botha

Quintus de Zylva 

Johan-Botha-6435317 Fifty years have passed since Ian Meckiff’s fast bowling action was “called” by leg umpire Col Egar during the test match against South Africa in Brisbane in 1963. His second, third, fifth and ninth balls were considered illegitimate by Col Egar. Captain Richie Benaud did not give Ian Meckiff another over to bowl and so ended the 18-Test career of this fast bowler at the age of 28. Richie Benaud’s spineless action was in contrast to that of Captain Arjuna Ranatunga who stood by Murali’s bowling action and threatened to take his team off the Adelaide cricket ground some years later. Biomedical expert Darryl Foster at the school of human movement at the University of Western Australia conducted tests that showed Murali’s flexion to be within a fifteen degree range that was considered acceptable.

 Now exactly fifty years after Meckiff’s brush with an umpires visual impression of an “illegitmate” delivery, South African Johan Botha’s action has been called in to question after he was reported during a Ryobi Cup match as he played for South Australia against Victoria a few days ago. He has been given two weeks within which time a report will again be obtained from Western Australia. Murali and Lasith Malinga will both be here to play for the Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars in the T20 competition that commences shortly – Johan Botha will again play for South Australia in that competition.

 Australia’s Mr. Cricket – DAVID HUSSEY- was recently asked to name the best three bowlers he has faced in his career – he named Murali as no. 1, Morne Morkel as no. 2 and Dale Steyn as no. 3. He went on to say that he could read Murali only 80% of the time and his accuracy was phenomenal . “He hardly bowls a loose ball” said David Hussey. “You could hear the ball fizzling in the air and the revs on the ball were Impossible”.

 The chanting of spectators saying “no ball” when Murali came on to bowl has ended – perhaps Johan Botha will now be the target of chanting this season.

The important thing in life is not the victory but the contest: the essential thing is not to have won but to have fought well” Baron Pierre de Coubertin 1908

** Quintus de Zylva is Chairman Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria and has rendered yeoman service towards the advancement of Sri Lankan cricket.

*** For the Murali saga in Australia and the international circuit, see Michael Roberts, “Saving Murali: Action On-field and Off-field, 1995-2005,” in Roberts, Incursions & Excursions in and around Sri Lankan Cricket, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2011, pp. 111-38…. ISBN 978-955-53198-0-5.

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