The ICC’s crackdown on illegal bowling actions is 20 years too late, says Darrell Hair

Hair was the first umpire to report Muralitharan for a suspicious bowling action

Hair was the first umpire to report Muralitharan for a suspicious bowling action

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Former international umpire Darrell Hair believes that the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) crackdown on illegal bowling actions has come 20 years too late.

Hair became the first umpire to report legendary Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for a suspect action during the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne in 1995.

“Whatever they’re doing now, they’re doing 20 years too late,” Hair told Sydney Morning Herald. “They had a chance in 1995 to clean things up and it’s taken them 19 years to finally come back and say they want chuckers out of the game. I can’t believe that Saeed Ajmal has been able to bowl as long as he has, and they say he is bending his arm by 45 degrees [the legal limit is 15 degrees] or something. Well, every man and his dog would have known that.

“I suppose what it does show is the general weakness of the umpires over time to do anything about it.”

After being reported by Hair in 1995, Muralitharan had his action cleared the following summer. However, he was reported once again by Australian umpire Ross Emerson during an ODI against England in Adelaide in 1999.

“All I was doing at any time was just doing my job and I think I did it to the best of my ability,” Hair said. “The fact was that no other ICC umpires were willing to have a go. Ross Emerson was very adamant about his thoughts about chuckers but they soon put him into the background.

“I suppose I was lucky I had a few games under my belt so they didn’t want to target me, but they certainly got him out of the way fairly swiftly. It’ll be interesting to see how many umpires are brave enough to get involved in it. I said it in the late ’90s that if something wasn’t done about it you’d have a generation of chuckers on your hands and now you have.”

Speaking about the recent crackdown on illegal bowling actions, ICC general manager of cricket operations, Geoff Allardice, told Fairfax Media: “The game had reached a tipping point on this issue, when many groups within the game felt that there were too many bowlers with suspect actions operating in international cricket.

“The most prominent of these groups was the ICC Cricket Committee at its meeting in June, when it observed the ICC’s reporting and testing procedures were not adequately scrutinising these bowlers. They weren’t the only ones talking about this issue, as similar views had been expressed by teams, players, umpires, referees and administrators.

“Since that time the umpires have felt more confident to report their concerns with certain bowlers, and their concerns have been supported by the results of the testing of these reported bowlers.”

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