Muralitharan is not a chucker

2008 Mar 13 by

Muralitharan is the greatest legal spin bowler ever to walk the face of this good earth.

By Vivek Jairazhboy - Courtesy of MichCA (

Muralitharan is the greatest legal spin bowler ever to walk the face of this good earth. In all forms of the game - even 20-20, which he will not get to play much. Bedi was a greatly talented spinner - but has never shown an iota of the brain/analytical ability necessary to draw a rational inference from recent chucking "literature"! Yes, I am a Shane Warne fan, but he never had to bowl against Australia! And many of the "Vintage Spinners" got to bowl on uncovered & "sticky" wickets. Admittedly, when Warne is bowling well, he is fearsome. Murali is nearly always fearsome!!

For over 100 years the world has relied on qualitative & subjective judgment (impressions!) based on images created by "cameras" that capture roughly 24 frames per second. If the bowler's arm jerked fast enough to slip under the radar - hey, presto! He had a legal action! Meanwhile, all & sundry F.R.C.S. began to associate a bent arm with chucking when the actual rule deals with straightening of the arm. They assumed, tacitly, that if the arm is bent, it must straighten at or prior to the delivery (since their "cameras" weren't fast enough to quite capture the entire straightening process). With the advent of 10,000 frames per second digital cameras, it suddenly became possible to eliminate the need for "judgment", & to critically examine players' actions in light of the "chucking rules existing at the time". The results were replete with surprises.

Most fast bowlers were measured to be straightening their arms significantly during their actions. The "suspect" candidates with "freaky" actions, e.g. Shoaib & Murali, were thoroughly grilled. The testing methods got tougher & stricter, bending over backwards to ensure that the "testees" replicate their typical action & "performance" during a game - i.e. with so much rigorous testing and so much data collected on the action & how much the ball turned during the test vs in an actual game, they made it extremely difficult to "pass" the test while maintaining a similar performance level as a game.

Yes, it is possible to slip in an occasional breach of the rules in a game - but that was always possible. No umpire ever called no ball because of one ball - he never had the confidence to because it happened too quickly. They would watch "the action" for a while, maybe several matches, before actually calling it. And, rightly, the ICC decided, on this new evidence, to try and "refine" the chucking rules, since quantification was now possible. After a period of "brain-freeze" in which they actually distinguished between spinners & fast bowlers in the application of the rule, realization dawned that the 15 degree rule was needed if fast bowling is to be allowed at all in the game! On the average, Murali straightens his hand 9 degrees while bowling his Doosra - far, far, far less than border line, and far less than the average fast bowler in world cricket.

Harbhajan straightens it roughly 14 degrees, & so must be careful. Shoaib Malik is not allowed to bowl his Doosra because he often exceeds 15 degrees.

Well, friends, Mr. Muralitharan has undergone more rigorous testing than any player in the history of the game. The comparison standards were rigorous and quantitative with respect to the formal rules, & the assessments quantitatively documented & reviewed. He has passed every assessment. The only laws that matter, are the current laws - as in all game theory, the rules define the game. Only those who refuse to accept quantification in favor of their anachronistic 24 frames/second cameras (presumably, you have figured out by now that this my tongue-in-cheek name for the umpire's or chucking vigilante's eye), will label Murali a chucker - others will simply debate whether he is the greatest, or second-greatest, or third-greatest, or ..... Spin bowler that ever lived!