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It all comes back to Murali. Nice guy that he may be, he should have been run out of the game. The use of the race card by SLC and other Murali defenders was deplorable and it opened Pandora's box.

I remember back in the mid 90s all the talk about Murali being a special case, he has a dodgy elbow etc. etc. Well, every man and his dog started throwing after that - quelle surprise ...

Tony Tea

Quite so. The Shrees knew he chucked, but also knew he was the only one who took wickets so they cooked up the "bring him on at the other end" tactic, the "he's got a bent elbow so he can't chuck" excuse, the "it's an optical illusion" excuse, the "you're all racists" excuse and the "so what if Murali chucks, everybody chucks" excuse. Now that he's out of the game the ICC is free to operate without offending the Shrees. Now for that asterisk...

Professor Rosseforp

I'll say it again -- perhaps it's time the ICC went back and read the UWA reports.
The ICC is only saying what UWA has already said: elbow-bending may be extreme but not look like a throw ; an apparent throw may have no elbow-bending.
In other words, their tests are not able to determine who is chucking and who is not, because by concentrating on the elbow, they may not be picking up the relevant part of the action that creates a throw.
Actually it's ironic that the ICC is calling into account the legality of the UWA's actions.


Bent elbows were about speed to start with werent they? The advantage was more pace in the old days - Meckiff etc. Pace not the issue with spinners, so they have made a rod for their own back. Perhaps some other element needs to be measured and identified. How far you stick your tongue out, wrist rotation, the colour of your skin?

Tony Tea

Bent elbows enable you to put more spin on an offie by allowing you to flick the ball out of your hand like a yo-yo.

Professor Rosseforp

No, Tony Tea, that is a usurper of the Professor Rosseforp name! There's a few around, but I predate this particular one. I'm the only Professor Cam Mac Rosseforp that I know of, though.
On bowling with a bent elbow, it means that the batsman does not know if the bowler is going to bend the elbow or not, and has less chance of guessing the initial delivery point of the ball from the bowler's hand -- normally the hand works in a kind of arc around the shoulder, and the ball is delivered from a small part of that arc.
With throwing, there are many more potential arcs.

Big Ramifications

Race card: TICK
Professor Bruce Elliot's laughable "optical illusion" excuse: TICK
Yo-yo analogy: TICK

I see most of the work has already been done for me.

All the home pages for the various UWA Sport Science departments have pictures of students in action or, strangely, a stock photo of a dude running.... except for one. One department has a picture of their STAR CLIENT front and centre.

Professor Rosseforp

"ICC is unhappy with the biomechanics lab at the University of Western Australia in Perth" -- I hope the UWA solicitors are examining the statement in detail to see if their reputation has been trashed by the ICC's comment.

Tony Tea

UWA would need the very best lawyers in town to be able to overturn the ICC's fruit of the poisonous tree defence - Biggy went to UWA.


UWA will have friends in high placs if they offer BCCI a 2 week course in turning your team around at the start of the Indian tour. Might not be long enough though.

Tony Tea

I would guess, without looking at any numbers, that there is no team with a bigger home-away differential than India. They can be utterly dreadful on the road, then turn it straight around and kick arse at home.


I'd hazard a guess effigy sales are at an all time high in India at the moment, I wonder if some of the players are foregoing their flights home and requesting asylum instead.

What a pissweak, dismal performance, an attempt so spineless it could have been performed by our very own lads a couple of years ago - however, it does put some wind back in Englands sails, even if it is still a year before the Ashes. A lot can happen in a year, who knows, we may be gnashing our teeth again at our guys, guffawing at Englands capitulation yet again, or - hopefully - enjoying a tough and well fought series.

Tony Tea

With similar bowling attacks in both spin and quicks, it will be interesting to see how England decides to doctor its pitches.


Negating Good Mitch likely the order of their summer. But if bad mitch turns up, they can be as green as they like. Hows the Ryno rehab? It should be the first item on the sports news every night. The man is a hero,and should be treated as such


Aaron and Sharma MIGHT offer something on Australian decks, so with any luck their seam attack will be better than last time they toured. Shami could be useful as well, although they haven't been picking him lately - not sure why. You could probably argue that Australian conditions aren't quite the kryptonite for the Indian batsmen as English conditions are too, but there's probably a bee's dick in it to be fair. Kohli did well last time he was in Australia, so that's something - he'll be lucky to make the team given his recent efforts, though.

All in all, it's looking like a very boring series. Bring on the World Cup, and insert commentary about the death of Test cricket here.

Professor Rosseforp

Over at The Roar I have been pontificating on chucking, in an article about Ajmal -- anyone who hasn't heard my opinions a million times before is welcome to have a look.

Tony Tea

Love your work, Prof. Here's the link for everyone else to go read.

Big Ramifications

I don't quite get what you're saying, prof.

It's elbow EXTENSION, for starters, not FLEXION. Straightening [extension] of the lower arm during the delivery is the definition of a chuck.

I totally agree that a person can bowl with a flexed arm and not be a chucker as long as the arm stays at the same angle for the entire delivery. As long as it doesn't straighten. Is that what you're saying?

UWA research has shown that some bowlers appear to throw but have minimal elbow flexion; other bowlers bend the elbow during the delivery by more than 15% and do not appear to throw.

Can you give me some names, prof [again, I'm not sure if you mean flexion or extension up there, and maybe "bend" should say "straighten"]. Names of bowlers who chuck but don't appear to chuck, and vice versa.

As far as I know, all the bowlers who look like they chuck, CHUCK. And spare me the baloney about the shoulder joint. It's all about straightening [extension] of the lower arm.

Big Ramifications

Not going out of my way to be a pedant, professor, but I think it's important to get the terminology correct.

Yes, the arm must first be flexed to throw a ball.
Yes, flexion during the delivery phase is a RED FLAG for a chuck.

But it's all about the extension. The lower arm must be extended for a delivery to be deemed a chuck. Murali had FARKING DIABOLICAL lower arm extension when he bowled.

Big Ramifications

It just occurred to me I have no idea what THE RULE says. Does the throwing rule only talk of flexion and not of extension [straightening]?

If the rule only talks of 15% flexion then the rule is wrong. The rule isn't describing a throw.

Professor Rosseforp

Biggers, you're right -- I'm disappearing up my own fundament.
Bent arm that stays at the same angle during delivery, okay.
Arm bending prior to or just after -- not okay, except for the 15 degree rule.
Names? Write to UWA to find them out.
To me, I've seen slow-mo of Lillee, Thomson, John Snow, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Shane Warne -- not a whiff of a bend -- and I wouldn't like to tell them they were chuckers.
At normal speed I have seen Bishen Bedi, Titmus, Chandrasekhar (withered arm, although not congenital), Bruce Yardley, Stuart MacGill, Trueman, Statham, David Hourn etc -- not a whiff of a bend.
Chuckers I have seen include Andrew Symonds, Charlie Griffith and Mr Asterisk.

Big Ramifications

Agree with you re: Thommo, Lillee, the Aussie spinners you named, and the Windies greats. Too young/stupid to remember the others. I'd add Big Merv to the list. Erm.... not the "great" list, the "non chucking" list.

I saw a Shaun Tait spell [vague memory of it being IPL] where he was sailing very close to the wind re: the 15 degree chucking rule. Can't remember his action being too suss back in the day, when he was a young firebrand who had just announced his arrival.

Brett Lee has had his chucky moments IMO.

ps: Chucky.

Big Ramifications

The reason why I mentioned Big Merv in the previous comment was that he had a v.peculiar bowling action with a near full range of elbow bending and elbow straightening.

His lower arm is pretty much fully flexed ¼ of the way thru his delivery action and he straightens his upper arm prior to release.

A la: A CHUCK!

Yet he manages to do all his "arm straightening" early in the delivery phase, so as to never be considered a chucker [at least I can't recall anyone complaining about his action].

I don't know if it's codified this specifically in the chucking rule.... but that tells me a chucker extends [straightens] his lower arm some time at or after the height of the delivery phase when the arm is vertical. Any arm straightening before that is totally kosher in my book.

// apologies for the quality of pix, they are screen grabs of the first front-on youtube footage I could find
// bloody oath Tony, he's a Victorian, marvelous competitor too, Mervyn Hughes, tremendous athlete, shown a lot of guts this summer....

Tony Tea

I like to occasionally refer back to the World's Fastest Bowler Competition - 1979 to look at the actions of the 70s quicks. No chucking there, from what I can tell.

Big Ramifications

I remember being TOTALLY AMPED for days leading up to that televised competition. Was a bit of a let down, but not a total let down.

BOWLED OVER! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEgFDlAJknk

But probably not a chuck[?].


There's no way that past bowlers didn't have the occasional kink. It's just the definition of what a kink is that's changed. A lot of the research has pointed out that there really isn't any such thing as a 100% pure action, and I believe it. There was an article on cricinfo (has someone linked to it here?) that pointed out an "infamous" test that was run in the 2004 Champions' Trophy that concluded that everyone chucked to a point, and that the only 100% pure action was Ramnaresh Sarwan's. I don't know how sophisticated the test was, but that tournament included the likes of McGrath and Pollock, and I challenge anyone to say that their actions would never have been thought as anything other than textbook. I can remember making that exact point in a thread several years ago, and I don't for one second think that decisions were made about percentage of allowable flex/bend for any reason other than pure pragmatism.

There are all sorts of conclusions you could draw about what's happened in recent years, but for me, Occam and Hanlons' razors really apply here (assume simplicity over complexity, and incompetence over malice). The Murali thing absolutely opened a can of worms, but not because anyone was on the take or because people were racist or conversely that it was some sort of subcontinental conspiracy. From what I can gather, it just hadn't been properly discussed in any real way since the days of Meckiff, and whilst the game had evolved from being largely amateur to being a multi-billion dollar industry in that time, thoughts about chucking hadn't really gone anywhere. On that basis, the ICC had to make a lot of decisions on the run, and made the entirely reasonable call that you can't run a guy like Murali out of the game because a bunch of people like us "could just see" that he chucked. Whether he did or didn't, there's definitely room for debate that he might not have - after all, he does have rubbery wrists and an elbow that can't straighten properly.

The can of worms was never really Murali's career though, it was the fact that a lot of players and boards knew that they could get away with pushing the boundaries whilst the law-makers struggled to keep up, and now there are borderline actions everywhere. The ICC will look inconsistent in the way they're doing things, but to their credit they've clearly decided that enough is enough and something must be done. I don't think that what's happened is necessarily their fault, though. For better or worse, chucker or clean, Murali's physical oddities made him a really freakish case that no-one would ever have been able to see coming, and I wouldn't have wanted to have been in their shoes when the debate about him was really raging.


This is encouraging. And quite unexpected. When I read the headline I wondered whether they were campaigning against the ICC - i.e. saying that moves to get rid of chucking are racist and unfair, specifically targeted against Sri Lanka and the sub-continent following the reporting of Ajmal and Senanayake etc etc - the usual jive. To read that not only did they not say those things but actually began a domestic campaign against chucking because of it is refreshing indeed.

Other thoughts: 20-25 bowlers? Wow. That said, as someone who dabbles in offspin himself I suppose it's not that surprising. Offspin is always going to be slightly more chucky than other methods of bowling even when it's completely legal - there's always going to be an element of flex in the elbow, and there's a fine line between flex and bend.

Big Ramifications
Whether he did or didn't, there's definitely room for debate that [Murali] might not have - after all, he does have rubbery wrists and an elbow that can't straighten properly.

Zero debate. Murali was a chucker. Oft times, Murali was zinging 'em in from well over 90 degrees of arm straightening.

He "can't straighten properly"? Yep. I've seen biomechanists give live demonstrations on Murali with him standing there passively, with his sad puppy dog eyes.

So he can't "properly" straighten his arm? Big farken deal. If he's cocked his arm at 90 degrees to zing in a doosra, and can't "properly" straighten it.... then he's still gone thru a 75, 60, 45 degree chucking motion. Take your pick. It's still a chuck, and a blatant chuck at that.

[And I'm being VERY generous here saying 90 degrees - sometimes his arm was so cocked that the ball was almost touching his shoulder. What's that? 130 degrees?]

I can't believe the number of intelligent people who have fallen for the "can't straighten" "naturally bent" "room for doubt" arguments.


Well - there is a debate. Look, we're having it! If there was such lack of merit in these claims about his bent arm/double-jointed shoulder/whatever, and if they were so obviously just made-up excuses, then he never would have lasted as long as he did. How many times was he tested? It was more than once. And don't bring up the "he should have been tested in in-game conditions" chestnut - yes, he probably should have, as should everyone else, but I don't think that UWA guy and his team of experts (it can't only have been him) would be that stupid as to not notice the difference if he was changing his action for the tests. Again, I just don't buy the idea that the ICC and everyone else were on the take during this process.

Look, I'm with you guys - I think chucking's an abomination, and the way that the rules were changed to allow in the doosra was terrible, but my point is that it wasn't, and isn't, that simple just to say "you're all cheats" and then point and throw things.


The most comprehensive and informative article on chucking I've ever read.

Salient points:

Some would be surprised to know that even the most pure actions of Dennis Lillee and Richard Hadlee had a degree of straightening as they flung down the ball in the '70s and '80s.

.... which addresses the theory that actions were 100% pure in the Olden Days.

In my experience, none of the bowlers I have worked with who have come under scrutiny deliberately try to throw the ball to gain an advantage.

..... which addresses the "they're all cheats" theory. Probably.

Lots of technical stuff that I must admit is a bit hard to follow even in summarised form, although some of it is qute surprising -

The jump or take-off position and finishing position in delivery stride is crucial.

Finally, spearing the ball or firing it in at a pace greater than the normal arm speed of an offspinner causes all sorts of problems. The bowler endeavours to keep the batsman pinned to the crease and thus increases the velocity on the ball. The natural windmill arc of the action is lost and a javelin-type of action results. The introduction of T20 cricket has increased this tendency and created bad habits among many offspinners worldwide.


And finally -

until we have 3D slow-motion replays available in games, the debate over illegal bowling actions will sadly continue to smoulder.

Which is something we've all been calling for for years.

Great article. And I really hope he wrote it himself (perhaps unlikely, but maybe I'm just revealing my prejudices), because it's really well-written too, as opposed to just being informative.

Tony Tea

A quick read does not convince me so easily.

No one here says all actions were pure in the old days. What we say is that we would like to look at the research of all the actions of the past.

Yet again no distinction is made between incidental elbow flexion caused by centrifugal force of a ball at the end of a fast bowler's arm and intentional elbow flexion caused by an offie trying to yo-yo the the ball out of clicking fingers.

The ICC is petrified that in the near future any cricket nerd sitting at home will be able to Youtube up footage of any bowler in a match and call him a chucker. (This also blends into the 3rd umpire being able to no ball chuckers off the TV like he no balls over-steppers when a wicket falls.)

I'll have a deeper read tomorrow.

PS: What does Berry think of Marlon Samuel's action?


I see big problems with in-match analysis as well. Until such time as the mechanics of what constitutes chucking and bowling are properly explained and understood, having "12% bend(or whatever)!" flashed up on telly, or even in the blogosphere, will cause absolute chaos. The players will hate it because loads of them will be outed as chuckers even when they're not, the viewers won't understand it, and there'll be an outcry from people, probably even ex-players and supposed experts, who will think that any bend at all is chucking and shouldn't be allowed. Let's face it, chucking is basically cricket's climate change - no-one really understands it, but has a strong opinion anyway.

I think it's a good read, in that it clearly comes from someone who has done his homework. So much of what's said comes from people that really haven't seen or read much more than you or I have. Martin Crowe wrote a piece that basically went along the lines of "chucking is bad" the other day, for instance. Actual analysis and opinion from someone who understands the mechanics of bowling is much more useful.

PS - Marlon Samuels has been banned from bowling his quicker delivery anyway, I think. I'm sure Berry would agree with that!

Professor Rosseforp

Carrot, one other salient point that should be dismissed is "racism". When Charlie Griffith was called I was only a young sprog, but I cannot remember anybody claiming there was racism involved in calling him. I think he suffered because his bowling partner, Wes Hall, was seen as a fun-loving guy who played the game hard, whereas Griffith had a more menacing persona, and was easier to demonise, particularly with a chest-on action and a proclivity to hit the batsman at tremendous pace.
On the question of testing: Aginsky, K.D and Noakes, T.D. "Why it is difficult to detect an illegally bowled cricket delivery with either the naked eye or usual two-dimensional video analysis" in British journal of sports medicine 2010 vol. 44 pp. 420-425. This article reinforces the notion that the elbow appears to throw because the angle constantly changes during the delivery -- an umpire (or cameras) would need to be in a minimum of 3 different positions during each delivery to spot a genuine elbow bend, and cameras would have to be adjusted for every bowler and every delivery -- this test involved a male bowler, who is described as having "a large carrying angle". I wonder if this slightly risqué-sounding term means "congenital elbow deformity".
On the advantages of bowling with a bent elbow (even a "static" one): Marshall, Robert and Ferdinands, René. "The effect of a flexed elbow on bowling speed in cricket" Sports biomechanics. Vol 2 (1) p. 65-71. Summarising, I'm not a physicist, but apparently a straight arm with wrist rotation cannot bowl as fast as a bent arm, because the wrist can rotate faster when the arm is bent. "... bowlers who maintain a fixed elbow flexion during delivery can produce distinctly greater wrist/ball speeds by using upper arm internal rotation".

Professor Rosseforp

A minor point that hasn't received much discussion is underarm bowling.
I don't know that throwing was much of a problem during the underarm era, and possibly a lot of our difficulties arise from trying to legislate when some cads starting bowling overarm.
Even descriptions of early matches with underam bowling tend to assume that you know what the bowler was doing, so don't go into detail about whether all deliveries were along the ground, whether there were differences in flight, length, swing etc, whether underarm included roundarm, whether there was a runup -- but a few backyard experiments indicate to me that unless you bowl mulleygrubbers or donkey drops, it's virtually impossible to bowl underarm without throwing -- and certainly some players were renowned for bowling very fast, so must have been throwing. Anyone have any thoughts? It's not purely academic, since underarm bowling is still permitted, although rarely practised.

Tony Tea

Women. It's all their fault. They opened up a whole can of Pandoras when they started bowling over arm because of their crinoline dresses. The fact that this is almost certainly a myth should not obscure the fact that it is their fault.

Tony Tea

Fact have no place in cricket. Science, neither.

Big Ramifications
"If there was such lack of merit in these claims about his bent arm/double-jointed shoulder/whatever, and if they were so obviously just made-up excuses, then he never would have lasted as long as he did. How many times was he tested? It was more than once. And don't bring up the "he should have been tested in in-game conditions" chestnut - yes, he probably should have, as should everyone else, but I don't think that UWA guy and his team of experts (it can't only have been him) would be that stupid as to not notice the difference if he was changing his action for the tests."
Quoting UWA studies and the ICC and experts and "never would have lasted as long" is like quoting any other sexed up OFFICIAL findings. WMDs in Iraq. OJ was not guilty. Melbourne didn't tank. Murali didn't chuck.
"Let's face it, chucking is basically cricket's climate change - no-one really understands it, but has a strong opinion anyway."
I understand it.
Tony Tea

Ditto. What's not to understand?

Tony Tea

More on elbow movement for Chief Rubber Stamp:

Biomechanist questions Saeed Ajmal's unusual elbow defence

However, University of Western Australia biomechanist Bruce Elliott said the elbow condition would have no effect on Ajmal's test results and the legality of his action, even if it made his action look different to the naked eye. "That makes him more likely to be called [or reported] because it looks strange, and therefore is something for umpires to take into consideration, but it doesn't in any way allow him to extend differently from anybody else," said Elliott, whose laboratory was until recently the sole testing centre for illegal actions but no longer has a relationship with the International Cricket Council. "The rule stays the same whether he has got this or that. It would have no effect on his test results at all. His start point would be different, yes, therefore his position and upper arm horizontal would be different, and that is then taken into consideration because you are comparing upper arm horizontal to release."

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