Cricket: If It's a Throw, Let the Umpire Call It Then and There
Caddick, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)
THE THROWING issue is about as contentious as it gets in international cricket. To accuse a bowler of being a chucker is tantamount to calling him a cheat. Not far from saying that Amarillo Slim has a couple of aces concealed up his sleeve, or that Tiger Woods is propelling the ball to the hole with the aid of a tracking device.
It has raised its ugly little head many times over the years. Always has, always will. And it emerged again last week, with the first, belated, appearance in England of the Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar with his remodelled action.
Shoaib has just been cleared of illegalities by a study in Western Australia, but on Friday the papers were full of the apparent fact that the umpires in the tourists' match against Derbyshire had been to view a video of his bowling. The umpires' visit, it transpires, was for another purpose altogether - to look at the new Sky Scope gadget for judging lbws - but the headlines demonstrated how seriously observers view purported transgressions of this law. (Not least since Shoaib looks slower than before, a bit short of full fitness and probably won't play in the Test at Lord's).
This is an immensely delicate topic. You are talking about players' whole careers here. Equally, you are talking about the sanctity of the game. It is not for me to judge Shoaib, or anyone else, it is for the umpires. If they are 100 per cent satisfied that a bowler is throwing in a game they have to call "No ball". That is what the laws state, and the umpires are there to uphold the laws. But at the moment if the umpires merely have suspicions the regulations say they must report those to the governing body. By and large it should be left to them.
The controversy has also served to provoke interest in the two- match series against Pakistan. It is natural, I suppose, that attention has been all too easily deflected by the Ashes. But England's quest to regain them does not begin until July. There is abundant cricket to be played before then.
We beat Pakistan in the winter on their turf, which was a tremendous result, but that does not make them pushovers now. In Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram they have two great exploiters of English conditions. However, I think we can win because our bowlers, too, are at home in more ways than the obvious. …