Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja has called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to consider increasing the elbow flex limit from 15 degrees to “18 to 20 degrees.”
Raja also noted that something must be done to “safeguard this phenomena called the doosra” since it is the one delivery that has come under major scrutiny as of late.
“I have always felt that the most exciting delivery that has taken the playing fields is the doosra,” Raja told ESPNcricinfo. “You have got to make room somehow to legalise it, even if you have to tweak the limit to 18 or 20 degrees because: a) it is not threatening the batsman physically, b) it is a great ball to describe and you need skills to play it.”
Raja stated that there is nothing wrong with the doosra and was also quick to dismiss claims that it was a form of cheating.
“I’ve played with some of the greats who reversed it and I can vouch for the fact that you possibly can’t get a natural reverse swing, you have to tinker with the ball,” he said. “That’s been looked at as a great art and we look the other way. Even though we have laws in place to detect a roughed-up delivery, we know in commentary that this can’t happen without somebody playing foul.”
The former skipper added that bowlers need unorthodox deliveries like the doosra to survive in the sport, which has become very batsman-friendly.
“Batsmen can stand wherever in the crease, they can even stand in the danger area and not be called by the umpire with the spikes on, whereas if the poor bowler gets on that danger zone he is called and then taken off,” he said. “The switch hit is controversial yet nothing has been done about it. So because of the lopsidedness of the laws, we have seen the bowlers tweak the limits. Had the laws been 50-50, I think everyone would have been within the parameters and the game would have advanced smoothly.”
When asked if Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal would be able to fix his bowling action in time for the 2015 World Cup, Raja said: “Can you redeem a bowler who straightens his arm? I don’t think so. I think we will lose them. I don’t think a guy who has an indifferent bowling action can make a comeback. From 40 degrees flex you ask him to bowl at 15 degrees or lesser, it just can’t happen. From 37 to 15 degrees in a matter of couple of months, I don’t see that happening.”
Even though tests found that Ajmal was flexing his elbow up to an average of 42 degrees, Raja was skeptical of the results and said that the “process” followed was not very clear.
“We were told from 15 degrees to 17 degrees (in Ajmal’s case) it was just a minor fault and now it has gone up to 100% more,” Ramiz said. “I need to know how the process has been conducted; they have got to make it public. In case of a 40-degree flex, the home board needs to know why and how and what’s the process? Who has designed this machine and why has it been accredited by the ICC?”
Raja also urged the ICC to understand and respect how spinners are brought up in countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“You have allowed them to play for 10 years, the next generation has looked up to these bowlers,” he said. “Every bowler at the domestic level in Pakistan wants to replicate Ajmal. Saqlain [Mushtaq] was the hero earlier and Ajmal has modeled his action on him. Saqlain was given a clean chit. [Muttiah] Muralitharan is probably a great role model for the Sri Lankan young bowlers probably because he was allowed to bowl for so many years with an indifferent action. I think it’s important that, before imposing bans or fines, you have got to visit these countries because our street cricket, our club and domestic cricket is viewed differently.
“The world body needs to understand the structure of Pakistan cricket. How the spinners are brought up, how are unorthodox actions are legalised because there has been a history. To stop it, I think it’s imperative that you understand how street and club cricket is being played. Are players being screened or are they being allowed to go ahead and be another Saeed Ajmal?”