“Ali da Malinga” is one of the famous songs of Late Nusrat Ali Khan and “Lasith Malinga” is the second most controversial bowler after Muralitharan both are from Sri Lanka. While Murali spins the balls and the batsmen with his doosra, Malinga makes the batsman shuffle and dance when he swings his so-called “questionable yorkers” especially when he slings his yorkers at the batsmen at 150 kmph not only they jump but, the spectators sitting on the sides also jump and raise their eyebrows to know whether it is a legal delivery? Or, is it someone trying to throw flat stones at a still pond and that bounces and creates ripples in the pond. And in case of Murali whether he is bowling or throwing a javelin?
As children most of us must have experienced throwing flat stones in the water to compete as to who could make more bounces on the surface of the water and who could create more ripples? The flatter the stone, the lower your arm action, the higher the speed, the more ripples you can create. For a few math students on our blog here is a question: “If a stone is thrown into a lake creating a circular ripple that travels outward at a speed of 50 cm per second. What is the rate at which the area within the circle is increasing after 2 seconds?” I am posing this question to our maths whiz kids on the blog like Omer Admani and Theossa. And, I am sure Omer would come up with a theory of hyper-arm-extension which Michael Holding once showed videos by comparing Shoaib Akhtar and RP Singh’s arms.
Coming back to the math question, one may come up with an answer that, the radius increases at one hundred pi r square centimetres per second. Where Area = pi x r^2. May be, that is the answer. But this is not cricket. Fortunately for Murali & Malinga and for the ICC, it is not maths but, a favour. The bowling action of both these players will always be questionable and people would be asking this question whether it is legitimate bowling?
The irony is some people compare Malinga with Thompson. One can watch their videos and compare them side by side and see that Thompson’s action was about 20 degrees off vertical whereas; Malinga’s is about 15 degrees off horizontal. So, there is a big difference in the degrees and also in their bowling actions. Therefore, whoever is trying to compare them and conclusively saying they are similar have no idea of what they are talking about.
Besides, comparing the round arm action with low arm slinging action is also like comparing apples with oranges. If low arm slinging action is acceptable then make life more simple: Start bowling under arm. If you are among a group of Sri Lankan supporters and discussing about Murali or Malinga’s bowling action, it is like throwing a stone in a bee-hive or, inviting a bull with a red flag to charge at you. I believe that instead of avoiding, it is better to take the bull by its horns.
I reckon Murali had to go through the bio-mechanics lab in Southern Australia at least three times. The question is, why three times? Wasn’t the first test conclusive? To me it is not simple, it seems more than what meets the eye. The Australian Prime Minister called Murali a Chucker and that created a big hue and cry and the PM was told that it is politically incorrect, hence they have to compensate it by correcting the words of their Prime Minister by taking Murali into their bio-mechanics lab in their own university and approving the action. That did not suffice the roar of the critics and that lead to another controversy and it was challenged and he had to go through those tests two more times. But, Bhishen Singh Bedi said it in two simple words. He said, “Murali Cheats.”
And, Bedi went on to explain what he means by that, he said: “The reason I think he cheats is because I have seen him bowl perfect leg breaks. But when it comes to his other deliveries, he bends his arm,” he added.
Bedi also hit out at the ICC for using bio-mechanical tests to detect chuckers and said it should go by the assessment of the on-field umpire, who actually watches the bowler. That is true, no umpire uses a slow motion camera on every ball to judge whether it is within the approved parameters or not. “Cricketers don’t play in labs. They play on grounds and chucking is something that can be detected with a naked eye. You don’t need to go to Australia for those fancy tests to decide whether a bowler chucks,” he said. The former spinner said; Muralitharan may go down as the highest wicket-taker in Test history but he can never be put in the same bracket as Australian Shane Warne. “Warne is a genius. His action is just beautiful and he cannot be compared with Muralitharan. He is a league apart. Murali will complete 1000 Test wickets but they would count as mere runouts in my eyes,” he said.
Someone while agreeing with Bedi said, “just because people have a deformity, they should not be allowed to hurl javelins instead of cricket balls.” It is true that Murali is by no means a ‘clean’ spinner, he is just using his wrist and never rolls his arm over. Reportedly the ICC cleared him because of too much politics and money that plays a part in that region.
And Bedi has always said that Shane Warne is the greatest spinner to have graced the game, there is definitely a serious flaw in Murali’s action and when he hurls a ball you instantly know he is chucking ‘this is not cricket’. Someone said, “claiming that a thief did not steal because the police changed the definition of stealing?” This is very apt for the ICC bending and changing rules the rules to accommodate a few and to ridicule a few.
The point is when tested in labs, it is possible that bowlers may have altered their actions for the duration of a test when they know they are being watched very closely. The trick is to catch them in the act. If Murali’s arm straightened 15 degrees in such artificial conditions, it is also possible that it could be straightened by twice or even more in actual bowling. Is it not possible?
Perhaps, Bhishen Singh Bedi is right, the ICC’s greed and willingness to shred the laws on chucking are what have created this situation and leading to more controversial bowlers like Malinga, Akhtar, Shabbir, Harbhajan’s doosra, Shuan Tait’s jerk in his wrist.
Another aspect of seeing this is, if these bowlers have deformity and they are using it to one’s advantage; then they must play in a different league just like there is Olympics for physically challenged people, they must be playing for teams where they are all physically challenged and all alike.and the ICC must organize another tournament for them, then there will be no controversy.
Murali with his “golden” arm may take 1000 wickets in test and ODI both. But, people will have more respect for Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, Saqlain Mushtaq and those who bowled with a clean action. So the question is: Do we want more youngster’s churning their arms like Murali? I guess not.
And most people will agree that chuckers need to play in a different league. So, lets begin this debate and see who succeeds in proving that they are chuckers or not by using math, logic, science and art to defend their opinions. But, don’t forget the on-field umpire doesn’t use slow motion cameras to take a decision.