Bowling crackdown has come at the right time, says David Richardson

"If we decide that there's something wrong with the game, why should we wait until after a World Cup?"

“If we decide that there’s something wrong with the game, why should we wait until after a World Cup?”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson believes that the crackdown on illegal bowling actions has come at the right time.

Richardson’s comments come after many current and former players feel that the crackdown should have happened years ago or after the 2015 World Cup.

“If we decide that there’s something wrong with the game, why should we wait until after a World Cup?” Richardson said. “I think we’d reached that straw that broke the camel’s back. There were just too many bowlers starting to emerge that people were starting to worry about.

“I think it was simply that we said no, this is far enough. It’s arguable that we should have taken this kind of action earlier. That we can take on the chin.”

It has also been announced that any bowler reported for a suspect action during the World Cup will only have seven days to be tested instead of the usual 21 days.

“There’s a shortened testing time frame for ICC events,” Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s general manager of cricket, said. “A bowler needs to be tested within seven days. So pretty much, if you were reported in a World Cup for instance, you’d be straight off to the nearest testing facility, which we would have ready to go and the results would be fast-tracked.”

Richardson also revealed that a majority of people in the ICC feel that the 15-degree elbow extension limit is fair for all bowlers, even though many cricketers believe that it should be increased.

“We had that debate. Should we change the law to allow bowlers to straighten their arm so that they can bowl the doosra and get it to spin the other way?” Richardson said. “There were some who argue that, but the majority say no, stick with the laws as we’ve always had them. If you want to promote unorthodoxy, there were people in the history of the game, Johnny Gleeson, for example, who learnt how to spin the ball using his fingers.

“There are legitimate ways that you can do something special without actually changing the whole principle that you need to bowl with a straight arm. Hopefully we encourage unorthodox actions and deliveries, but within the laws. Even I could spin the ball when I threw it in the nets. I couldn’t when I bowled with a straight arm. So why make it easier to bowl for most bowlers? The guys who get the wickets must be the best bowlers.

“Fifteen degrees was chosen as that is the point at which you will start to notice that someone is straightening his arm. We felt it’s unfair to suspend a bowler who might be straightening his arm by five or six degrees now because we’ve got the technology, whereas in the history of cricket such a bowler would have gone unnoticed.”

Allardice added that umpires are not afraid to report bowlers any more since they know that they have the ICC’s support.

“Over the years, sometimes they felt like they were the ones being victimised for identifying bowlers with suspect actions,” Allardice said. “The other thing that they want is a testing process or testing results that match up with what their observations were on the field. They’re the two things that go together to giving them the confidence to express their views.

“In recent times I think the support from the ICC and its member boards in this regard has been good. I think they [the umpires] are sensing that, and I think that’s why they’re more confident in expressing their concerns.”

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