Timid officiating has allowed a generation of ‘chuckers’ to flourish in international cricket and the current crackdown on bowlers with illegal actions has arrived two decades late, according to former Test umpire Darrell Hair.
Pakistani’s Saeed Ajmal is the highest profile of a string of spinners who have been suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) recently for bending their elbows beyond the 15 degrees allowed while bowling.
The forthright Hair famously called Sri Lankan off-spinning great Muttiah Muralitharan for the offence during a Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1995 and said the ICC should have taken action back then.
“Whatever they’re doing now, they’re doing 20 years too late,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “They had a chance in 1995 to clean things up and it’s taken them 19 years to finally come back and say they want chuckers out of the game.
“I can’t believe that Ajmal has been able to bowl as long as he has, and they say he is bending his arm by 45 degrees or something. Well, every man and his dog would have known that.
“I suppose what it does show is the general weakness of the umpires over time to do anything about it.”
Muralitharan, whose action was later cleared by the ICC after biomechanical analysis, went on to become the leading Test wicket taker of all time despite also being called for throwing by Hair’s compatriot Ross Emerson in Adelaide in 1999.
“I said it in the late ’90s that if something wasn’t done about it you’d have a generation of chuckers on your hands and now you have.”