Grasping the Nettle by John Holder

10th September 2014

Patrolling the Boundary  – a view from the outfield

The authorities have at last grasped the nettle and banned Saeed Ajmal from bowling for throwing; and not before time either.

When he first came to England with the Pakistan side in 2010, it was said that the doosra was the delivery which was suspect. At that time I was working for ICC, and I had a close look at his action during every match of that season.

I thought then that he threw every ball – not just the doosra, but somehow he was cleared. He played county cricket for two seasons and threw it every time I saw him. Now there is a suggestion that too much bowling has caused his action to deteriorate, but I disagree. His action has remained the same from the first time I saw him. I believe that since ICC has introduced the fifteen degree tolerance, the number of throwers has grown massively.

Earlier this summer the Sri Lankan off spinner, Senanayake was also banned for throwing. He was apparently reported after the third ODI. To me, he was so blatant that it surprised me that it took the umpires so long to report him.

Remodelling actions does not work, in that efforts to straighten their bowling arm causes them to lose their effectiveness. Shane Shillingford is a prime example of this. With the altered action he cannot spin the ball as hard as before, so the extra turn and zip is gone. Shane looks a very ordinary slow bowler.

John Holder

John Holder is a highly respected former international umpire, who stood in Tests & ODIs between 1988-2001, and in 1st-class cricket from 1982-2009. He was also the innovative mind behind the introduction of the ‘bowl-out’ to settle washed out one-day games.

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