Much of what I write irks. At nearly 58, having been victimized, vandalized, even scandalized, in most Caribbean territories, I could not care less. Somehow, I will live!
Someone has to be honest, despite the constant inane Obama-like rhetoric in our cricket. Many might not like what I say, but they know that all I say is closest to the truth!
The situation with Shane Shillingford and his bowling action is as disappointing as it is frightening and enlightening. That he has been caught out is not his fault, but just listen to the noises now. “We will support Shane fully in this situation!” Such rank crap!
This is the fault of those in the “yes-men” system around him. In some sense, Shillingford is being victimized, and vandalized too, the subject of outright stupidity and insularity. I have great empathy with him. He has been hung out to dry!
Here is a quick story, as told by then West Indies captain, Clive Lloyd.
In 1980 WI tour of England, the fast bowlers were Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Colin Croft and Malcolm Marshall.
Unbeknown to us, but known to Lloyd, seniors Deryck Murray and (Sir) Viv Richards, and manager, (Sir) Clyde Walcott, WI fast bowlers were being scrutinized very closely – “filmed for throwing” – with that time’s technology.
It was supposedly thought that we were bowling much too quickly to be normal!
There were never any overt accusations, but the results were very interesting indeed.
None of us were found to be even remotely close to delivering illegally. One ‘independent’ judge, John Edrich, former England opener, told me much later; “I could not believe how straight you blokes’ arms were; especially you, Crofty!”
Amazingly, what was found was that for all of my movements and contortions in delivery, my bowling arm was calculated to be the straightest of them all! That is fact!
The object of this short history is that the eyes do not always see what you think they do.
Conversely, they see much more that most of us even realize; images set on the mind! Seasoned commercial pilots, in simulation, and real life too, have been known to think that they were flying normally, when, indeed, the airplane was actually upside down. Ask the FAA. Some have died that way. What you see is not always what you get!
Another fact – Shillingford has been found to be over ICC’s bowling extension limit – 15 degrees – by at least two degrees.
I can bet you this. Many are not surprised. However, this is a terrible indictment on our entire cricket system!
Shillingford has been playing for Windward Islands since 2001 – 10 years – 63 1st class games, 5 Tests – 244 wickets; total. Yet, everyone had a say on his action, mostly negative. Ask scribes and especially other players!
From Jamaica; “Rahtid; him ah fling bad, bwoy!” – Guyana; “Duh man peltin’ bad, budday!” – Trinidad & Tobago; “Papa, dah man stonin’, bhoy!” – it was always the same!
Yet, no-one, regardless of what they say now, sought to correct this. The lad has been sent to the wolves by people looking at their own damned shadows!
Many highly recognized Caribbean umpires have officiated throughout this guy’s career. What exactly have they, or WICB, done to try to help Shane overcome this situation?
Why did it have to come to this massive embarrassment? How did we get here?
Having a camera does not make one a cameraman. I have always had good cameras all my adult life, the “prize” being my two, very functional, roll-film Canon AE-1’s – (circa 1979). Many professionals still swear by those unbelievable, revered semi-automatics.
I have had many Canons since, up to the very recent 500-D, which, in quality and speed, is just below the professional, but almightily more expensive 5-D. I also have a 400-D.
Still, knowing my limitations, I am an amateur, even with much knowledge of aperture!
The point here is that most of those given jobs these days of assessing West Indies cricket, from top to bottom, seldom know what they are doing, or what to look for.
They carry around so much equipment, and talk so much, that they even convince themselves that they know their jobs. I can tell you that they know very little.
Two recent situations about bowling actions, and legality, come to mind – Mukesh Persaud, former Trinidad & Tobago off-spinner, and Jermaine Lawson, former Jamaican and West Indies fast bowler.
It was suggested, unscientifically, that Persaud delivered illegally. No-one ever properly tested his delivery arm for flex angle. Yet, by insinuation, he was drummed out of T&T’s senior team, just when he was making his mark. He still plays club cricket. So, apparently, no problem!
Lawson’s case was much worse. He also had a suspect action from the get-go. By this time, WICB had a developmental arm, with purview to look after our youth. Also, Lawson had been developing into a match-winning WI bowler.
WICB had even set up a Bowling Committee, to check, oversee, and report on, the legality of WI bowlers, consisting of David Holford, Brian Davis and Colin Croft – one fast bowler, one slow bowler, and one batsman; a very useful and extremely honest mix.
After Lawson’s 7-78 in that historic match, in 2003, in which WI made 418-7 to win the 4th Test at ARG, a massive noise was heard around the world about his bowling action. He eventually had to have remedial work done. That was not the end of the story!
In 2004, I was sent to Grenada to check his progress as he played against Bangladesh for WI “A”. I reported that even without technology, which we did also use, to confirm, his action was the same. He still had problems. I still have the report. Nothing was done!
Lawson soon played again internationally, was again officially reported for illegal bowling action, and that was that; dead and done!
Since I have not heard from WICB for ages, and with a new administration, I also assume that WI Bowling Committee is now defunct. We now have more coaches than the Big Red Bus Company, meandering on, with talk and flash, and tools too, but little substance!
In one sense, I mostly blame Caribbean umpires; in another; I exonerate them, for this. Their hands are tied, their situation a dangerous two-edged sword!
Most are scared stiff to make adverse reports on any bowler, less that umpire becomes an ex-umpire. Victimization and insularity are still rampant. Thus, umpires have become poorer, and worse, disrespected, in these parts.
Also, could you imagine the coaches, managers or representatives of Windward Islands even suggesting that Shillingford’s action needed rectification? No, I cannot either!
Conversely, the umpires here have no real help. Unlike Australia and England, where all umpires do 95% of their work, if not 100%, in the seeking eyes of television, to help in decision-making and improvements, most of the Caribbean’s umpires do no more than 5%, if that much, with televisions available. Their situation is almost untenable.
How Shillingford stands up here will show how resilient he really is. Most of us have had to overcome some adversity in sports. Hopefully, he can too! Enjoy!
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