Chucking it in: Throwing a grey area – Patel
The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) 15-degree flex limit for bowlers is difficult to police and has become problematic, former Black Caps Jeetan Patel and Chris Harris say.
The issue was dragged back into the spotlight yesterday when New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor appeared to accuse veteran Pakistan offspinner Mohammad Hafeez of a suspect action in the Black Caps’ 47-run opening ODI victory in Abu Dhabi.
Taylor, who topscored with 80 in the win, made a prolonged gesture with his right arm bent at 90 degrees during Hafeez’s first over. He was clearly drawing reference to the 38-year-old allrounder’s questionable action, which has been ruled illegal (beyond the permitted flex of 15 degrees) four times by the ICC. Hafeez was first reported almost 14 years ago during an ODI triseries in Australia in 2005.
Since being cleared for the fourth time by the ICC in April, Hafeez had bowled 19 overs in one test and six T20Is against Australia and New Zealand before drawing attention to his remodelled action until now.
Offspinner Patel, who played for New Zealand between 2005-17, believed the ICC’s allowable 15 degrees of flex had turned into a grey area of the law.
‘‘The boundaries are getting pushed now. That’s what the rules allow. The rules allow the boundaries to be pushed.
‘‘If you’re going to allow 15 degrees, how you can tell what’s 15 and what’s 15.5 when you’re out in the middle? There’s always going to be conjecture.’’
Former Black Caps allrounder Harris, a medium-pace bowler, agreed and said there were times throughout his international career he had concerns about a bowler’s action while batting.
‘‘It’s a really difficult situation and it’s very hard to monitor.
‘‘My understanding of it is, if it occasionally goes beyond 15 [degrees], if it’s on the odd occasion, that’s very hard to monitor. Where the problem lies is if people feel it’s consistently above that 15-degree angle.’’
Patel questioned whether there could be greater technology available to the third umpire and match referee during matches to analyse bowlers’ actions.
It was sometimes difficult to tell whether a bowler was slightly extending their elbow flex above the 15-degree threshold, which made it tricky to gauge.
‘‘They’ve got Hawk-Eye and DRS [umpire decision review system] and all this technology that can provide you with almost game-changing decisions. Can they have that sort of technology available for when they’re playing games in terms of actions?,’’ Patel said. ‘‘One degree change, you wouldn’t be able to tell on TV, you wouldn’t be able to see in person, but you can obviously see on a computer.’’
Both Patel and Harris defended Taylor’s behaviour, which angered Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who labelled it ‘‘disgraceful’’ and said it was the umpires’ job to oversee.
They argued it was out of character for the usually mildmannered Taylor, who was clearly frustrated Hafeez hadn’t been spoken to by the umpires.
‘‘Sometimes as a player if that decision is not being made you tend to want to make it more visible to an umpire or the official that there is something going on,’’ Patel said.
‘‘That was probably what Ross was doing. He was pointing out the fact you probably need to do something about this now because it’s getting silly.’’
Black Caps captain Kane Williamson, a part-time offspinner, became the first New Zealand bowler to be suspended from bowling internationally in 2014, having been reported by the umpires and match referee during a test against the West Indies in Port of Spain. Williamson was cleared to bowl five months later after tests by human movement specialists at the ICC’s-accredited centre in Chennai, India.
‘‘If you’re going to allow 15 degrees, how you can tell what’s 15 and what’s 15.5?’’ Jeetan Patel
Pakistan spinner Mohammad Hafeez was at the centre of a throwing controversy in yesterday’s oneday international.