Chucking Problem Needs Immediate Fix

The chucking controversy is back in the news. Thank you Michael Holding for bringing this back to the forefront. I think this is going to seriously impact the game unless addressed immediately. The ICC should take a tough and immediate stance on chucking.

First and foremost, the 15-degree rule is too complicated. How can this rule be implemented at all levels of the game especially when the required technologies are available only at the highest level? You don’t want a cricketer to work his way up the local leagues and suddenly face undue scrutiny at higher levels and then be told that the action needs fixing (Shhabir Ahmed is a good example). This can destroy careers and can be a complete waste of everyone’s time (the record- keepers included).

Next, if chucking is not addressed on a war footing, the game is going to spawn many more bowlers with suspicious actions!

(I got a taste of this the other day when I had the opportunity to play “gulley cricket” with a handful of 6 to 10 year olds in Dubai (ironically, not far from the ICC headquarters!:-). I was shocked to find almost all of them had a few suspicious deliveries! While the leg breaks were delivered perfectly. The off breaks and shot balls were what I would term as “chuck”most of the time! The off-breaks in particular were so Murali-esque! (which to me btw is very suspicious, though I think the ICC messed up in his case in a big big way!))

The truth is that the next generation of cricketers are going to imitate the present day stars. So if the ICC does not fix this immediately, its going to reach a stage when the frequency of “chuck” balls might skyrocket and at some point this might actually threaten the validity of the very game! Imagine if every ball had to go through some kind of litmus test! Why not? It won’t be long before sophisticated cameras and software can track the trajectory of the bowlers arm and compare it to a specific requirement (range) and pronounce legitamcy almost instantaneously. But can this made available at all levels? Probably not.

I am not sure what the exact fix is for this problem. At a minimum the ICC must come up with something less complicated than the 15 degree rule. Something that can be implemented at all levels of the game. The Shoaib Akhtars of the world must be seriously brought to book for sneaking in “chuck” balls. Else it encourages others to do the same.

Every bowler must be reviewed after each match. Perhaps an automated technology assissted mass review of each bowlers action on each and every ball at the end of each match must be put in place. More than a certain number of suspicious deliveries and you get fined, docked etc.

The fix for this problem is needed immediately before chucking proliferates beyond control and threatens the game as a whole!

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

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