True bowlers bowl, others Chuck. The question of illegal bowling action has been the bone of contention for many top class bowlers. While many of them lost their earlier sheen after changing a 'uestioned' bowling action, many others were banned from their career. The issue is among the most devious ones entangled with multidimensional enigmas that still needs careful scrutiny. The most critical issue that looms in bowling action is that the definition of a legal bowling action itself a dubious one. It is because it is not perfectly possible to ascertain whether the bowler is chucking to break the 15 degree arms bent rule as mandated by ICC or if the 'illegal bent' is a part of a legal bowling action.
A number of bowlers like Lasith Malinga, Sajeed Ajmal and even Muttaih Muralitharan has been under the radar of controversies. The lists of bowlers in long with many players who topped the ranks. Bowling actions were under on-the-pitch scrutiny by umpires who had to judge according to their intuition. However, naked eye cannot be the sole determinant for bowling actions. It is obvious that it is not possible to dissect the movement of a bowler throughout nanoseconds of his fast action with human eye.
Moreover, a player who appears to have an illegal action might be actually correct in the approach. For instance, the case of Muttiah Muralitharan depicts the frailty of such determination. His action, while delivering the famous 'Doosra', the left to right swing, was apparently a throw. However, biometric tests that were carried out on the bowler favored his action. In fact, Muralitharan was unable to straighten his elbow fully, as he has a physical kink in his arm.
It is interesting to know that, chucking is mostly done by spinners rather than pace bowlers. While pace bowlers could intentionally throw the ball to produce more bounce, for spinners it becomes merely a part of their bowling action. It is practically impossible to spin the ball without twisting the arm. On the other hand, for the notoriously 'Doosra', flexing the arm up to certain degrees is unavoidable. When the mandates of legal bowling were to put into action stringently, it appeared that bowling movement of most of bowlers were illegal. It was because, flexing the arm by eight to ten degrees was a natural mechanics of bowling action. Thus, the ICC had no other way than to offer the leeway up to 15 degree to flex the elbow. Additionally, the 15 degree rule provided space to spinners to spin the bowl from left to right, which is quite impossible without bending the arm.
Currently, when a bowler is reported of a suspected bowling action by umpires, a series of test are conducted to observe the action. This is done by capturing the player's deliveries from multiple cameras and the movement is monitored using several sensors placed in the body. The test particularly observes the degree of flexion of the arm while delivering a bowl. The prevalent techniques of determination includes various 2D and 3D imagery. The motion analysis system includes twelve high speed cameras that are capable of producing 3D imagery of the action. The University of Western Australia, which is the sole researcher in the field suggested computer modelling of bowlers at matches to figure out their actual bowling actions.
The biomechanical devices that are used to analyze a bowling action, the mechanism used as well as the modelling system are subjected to constant scrutiny for improvement. Bowling action is among the core of the game and is least expected to become a point of controversy. In order to ensure pure bowling action, more technology should be integrated into the paradigm, however with utmost intuition and care.
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