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Analysing ICC’s clampdown on chucking and the Sunil Narine mystery

Can West Indies overcome this huge setback? (Photo Courtesy: NDTV Sports)
Can West Indies overcome this huge setback? (Photo Courtesy: NDTV Sports)

Chucking is defined as ‘throwing something casually or carelessly’. But, in cricketing parlance, the term has begun to be associated with any off-spinner whose action is too complex to understand.

Sunil Narine’s ban from bowling in all international cricket does not come across as a sudden jolt. Rather in an era in which the International Cricket Council is fixated on weeding out chuckers, the decision could be the proverbial ‘final nail in the coffin’. The ICC revealed that all of his deliveries exceeded the 15-degree limit.

The West Indies tweaker is the latest entrant to a long list of banned bowlers which contains notable names such as Saeed Ajmal, Sachitra Senanayake and Mohammed Hafeez among others.

An ageing Ajmal was unable to make a comeback into the Pakistan team after his menace completely disappeared due to his remodelled action.

Despite showing signs of rediscovering a whole new facet in his bowling, Senanayake is struggling to cement his spot in the Sri Lankan side.

Meanwhile, Hafeez has lost interest in working on his bowling and instead has achieved considerable success with his batting skills.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka who were once recognized as powerhouses in limited overs cricket are rapidly spiralling into steep decline. It is in this context that Narine’s ban could aggravate an already bleak phase for West Indies cricket who recently became the first major nation to miss out on a Champions Trophy berth.

According to the rankings, Narine is the premier bowler in both ODIs and T20Is. It is a testament to his remarkable consistency which was on display at the Premadasa stadium in Colombo when he single-handedly sliced open the Sri Lankan batting line-up.

Even though West Indies lost the thrilling encounter, his performance was a timely remainder to batsmen who were flummoxed with his admirable control over a plethora of variations.

However, the ICC’s decision to take him out of the equation should bring a sigh of relief to numerous batsman across the world. Batting has never been easier and at a time when bowlers are being reduced to sideshows, cricket’s apex body do not want to shift their focus towards rectifying the glaring imbalance between bat and ball.

Cricket aficionados have a right to be aware of the testing process. Perhaps, the ICC can disclose video footage of the complete procedure. The 15-degree rule also needs to be clearly explained as to how the umpires can gauge the flex on a bowler’s arm in an accurate manner. There are plenty at stake here including players’ reputations and teams’ fortunes.

Richard Pybus, Director, WICB had stated, “We will be offering our support to Sunil as he does the remedial work on his bowling action. I know the time and effort he has put in to do this work previously and I am sure this will just deepen his resolve to come back a better bowler.” But, knowing the board’s inglorious history of mismanagement, Narine’s career could sadly be over.

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