Sunil Narine was recently reported for a suspect action bowling action making him the 4th high profile off-spinner to come under the scanner in recent weeks after Saeed Ajmal, Mohammed Hafeez, and Senanayake.
The tweet we sent out on the subject elicited two responses that pretty much capture all facts and fallacies related to chucking in cricket.
The dictionary describes chucking as, essentially, throwing. Like…throwing a rock..or pitching a baseball. It involves 2 acts.
1. Bending of the arm.
2. Straightening it at the point of release.
It’s the combination of both at high speed that generates the extra force required to beat the batsman. Much like this slo-mo of a baseball pitch given below.
In cricket, by straightening the arm at the point of release off-spinners can generate torque – another kind of force really – that helps them get more revolutions on the ball. And, thereby, more spin after it lands.
Which brings us to the other tweet.
Chucking is not a static act. It’s an act of motion. You can’t judge it by looking at a still picture.
If the bowler keeps his arm bent throughout, including when releasing the ball, it’s a legal delivery. Leg spinners do this quite often. Off-spinners like Rajesh Chauhan made a career out of bowling with a bent arm that never straightened.
The ‘doosra’ is a strange beast. For the uninitiated, ‘doosra’ literally means ‘the other one’. It came to be known thus because that’s the word Moin Khan would use to hint to Saqlain Mushtaq to bowl the other one to fox the batsman.
The doosra almost defies physics to move the other way and, hence, is very difficult to bowl. It’s almost impossible to bowl it without the extra torque that comes with straightening the arm. That’s what makes Saqlain Mushtaq so special. In the video below, you can notice that he bends his arm but he doesn’t seem to straighten it. As Moin Khan would say, ‘Well balled Suckey’.
The Murali conundrum
Muttiah Muralitharan posed a unique problem. His arm, apparently, is naturally bent. So he can’t straighten it at all. This argument was successfully used in his defence.
Now, torque is generated because the arm rotates around a pivot. In most cases it happens when we straighten our arm. For Murali it happens when his arm reaches its maximum straightening capacity. The jerky movement of the arm at the point of release of the ball generates the torque, which helps Murali get more revs on the ball. In my opinion, it’s no more legal than Saeed Ajmal’s or Sunil Narine’s.
If you’re still confused, this YouTube video by Duncan Taylor will clear all your confusion about chucking. Watch it!
Brief history of anti-chucking laws
Recent advances in bio-mechanical studies showed us that it was humanly impossible to bowl a delivery without some amount of flex. The sort of flex the naked eye cannot catch. Cricket rules were changed to accommodate this and the degree of straightening the arm was set at 10 degrees for fast bowlers, 7.5 for medium pacers, and 5 for spinners.
In 2004, this was changed and made uniform for all bowlers to 15 degrees.
Saeed Ajmal misread it as 45 degrees!