Is Saeed Ajmal a chucker

Chucking is one of the most delicate subjects in cricket, up there with claiming catches that bounce and where the line is in sledging. It’s pretty much unanimously agreed in the cricket world that chucking is bad, wrong, against the rules and against the so-called ‘Spirit of Cricket.’

So I’m going to be very careful with this, because I know how serious an accusation it is and I want to make one thing clear before I start. I don’t believe that necessarily Ajmal exceeds the ICC’s guidelines on how much the elbow can be extended most of the time. His off break looks perfectly fine, but it’s the doosra and the so called teesra that seem to be the problem.

I don’t see how any bowler can bowl the doosra with a straight arm, I’m a spinner myself and I’ve had a go at bowling doosras, and I just find myself chucking them. After his ICC mandated bio-mechanical analysis, Murali was told to stop bowling his doosra, and that makes me think, if Murali with his freakish flexibility chucks his doosra, surely everyone else does too?

In a Q+A article about whether Murali was a chucker or not, I found a few interesting points. One of them was that under the new rules, Murali didn’t chuck his doosra, and another was that 99% of all bowlers have some arm straightening, and under the old rules were chuckers. How does this apply to Ajmal though? When reported he was cleared, but he remains under suspicion, and is presumably closely watched by match officials.

Despite Ajmal’s brilliant 7-55 against England today, his teesra turned out to be a lame duck, a clearly telegraphed round arm ball that skids on a little. The first, and only time so far he bowled it, Stuart Broad played it comfortably. His arm did look suspect though, with it coming through over his shoulder then at the last second flicking more round his shoulder. I have to say I think he chucked that ball.

The more I look at videos of his doosra the more I think he chucks it, and the more I write the more this is sounding like a bitter Englishman. That’s really not true. Yes, I am an England fan, but before that I’m a spinner and a fan of quality spin bowling. For the moment I’ll concede to the ICC’s judgement, but I do have one important point about it. When he was cleared, it was made clear that it wasn’t an unconditional clearing of his whole bowling repertoire, he could be called again at any time. I wonder if match officials cede to that judgement whilst having their own concerns and not airing them. Being called for chucking is a horrible thing to happen to a bowler, but it may be a necessary evil.

First published 17-Jan-2012

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