a discussion docment by Ian Bond, Paul Cawsey & Alex Mackay
Ian Bond was umpiring a match in CERN a nasty thought occurred to him, how do you determine if a bowler is throwing or not?
He writes "in all of the courses that I have attended, no clear advice has been conveyed", so a discussion pursued between swissFOCUS umpires and the result is this article written for swisscricket.ch. It is written to provoke debate and hopefully go some way to increase the general level of understanding (backed up with the use of a video and supported by a discussion and explanation), particularly amongst player umpires.
We believe that this is a matter of education and sound judgement. Don't forget that this is a subject which causes great concern in the professional arena and that the ICC have been asked to change their instructions to make it clearer for officials to make decisions. So how can Swiss Cricket reduce the opportunity for bowlers to take advantage of the 15%, and the consequent uncertainty which this is creating?
Of course it is easy to see if someone is clearly straightening their arm. It's judging the marginal ones that is the issue. We understand, and believe, that there has been uncertainty in the past and this will remain so as long as we use player umpires, particularly those that are not properly educated or impartial.
If an umpire suspects a bowler is throwing they can call a no ball, but how do we prove anything?
That is where impartiality and sound judgement are crucial.
As for education...a medium pacer has a reasonably straight-forward action, but in my view it is very difficult for an umpire at the non-striker’s end to determine exactly when a bowler is
straightening the arm by more than 15%, and whether the arm is being flexed at the point of release or just after.
An off-spin bowler adds a major complexity. He is already starting with a bent arm which will naturally straighten a bit just prior to and during release. The problem we have is that the ICC changed the tolerance from 9% to 15% over 10 years ago and ever since bowlers have taken advantage of this increased freedom, i.e. they know that there is an allowance and that it is very hard to judge.
So the question we have is "should we be calling suspect actions or not?" The answer is yes we absolutely should, but it clearly needs to be very clearly wrong and not be employed as a tactic of the fielding side.
As graphically demonstrated in this video on CoachesInfo.com, some actions can look bad without being a chuck - an illegal throw is clearer to see than you might imagine, i.e. if a bowler is chucking, an educated and impartial umpire at the striker’s end will be able to identify it.
There are two actions to be observed. If nothing else, what you need to take away with you from this article is that a bowler can bend the arm a bit and, unless it is blatantly obvious, it is
NOT chucking. So not to spoil the fun, I’ll let you read what they have to say and to ascertain whether either of the actions is legal!
From the semi-final stages in the SCA 40 over league and Pickwick T20 Cup, swissFOCUS will be
providing two neutral umpires that will make the club captains and coaches aware of the fact that they have been asked to focus even more on this aspect of bowling.
Any observations during these matches will be reported on the match report and bought to the attention of the relevant captain (to get them to focus on re-training their bowlers to avoid recurrence) and to the league committee. Next season proven and clear repeat offences will should carry a penalty to force the bowler to work with their coach to eradicate this movement.