Dec 06, 2015 Sports
By Colin E. H. Croft
Like Dominica, Windward Islands and West Indies off-spinner Shane Shillingford, Trinidad & Tobago’s off-spinning “doosra” bowler, Sunil Narine, has had his bowling action, his future international bowling career even,
nullified by tested results.
When Shillingford had his bowling action problems; twice; I opined then that he was not at fault, since everyone around him, those who should have better guided him, from coaches in Windward Islands to those he operated under for West Indies, had only been telling “Shilli” that he was doing nothing incorrectly in delivery.
In Narine’s case, that assertion is tripled. His club coach in T&T, his coaches when he played for T&T and relatively few times when he played for WI, even personnel at his home cricket board, have generally been telling him the same thing too for years: “Boy Sunil, there is nothing wrong with your action at all. It is all just jealousy because of your big successes. There is a big conspiracy against you!”
That is the kind of absolute jackass-ness that has our cricket in such terrible depths of despair now. Bowling coaches have always been responsible for their charges’ problems, but you never hear coaches’ names called in the eventual negative fall-out!
If any bowler, on the beach or in international cricket, has been told, from the get-go, by peers, coaches, cricket boards even, that everything he/she has always done while bowling is legal and above-board, then that bowler does not have to change anything but just believe in that legality and carry on.
Unfortunately, when it eventually comes down to embarrassment and stresses of being universally scrutinized, then banned; in Narine’s case, three separate situations; all that those lame coaches do is remind that player that, “whatever happens, we have your back and are with you!”
What absolute crap! How the hell does that help Narine now, after he has gone through so much trauma for so many years, to now have his only tool of employment, his bowling action, not only questioned, but found to be illegal? Have you heard of any of Narine’s coaches taking responsibilities for that?
I also maintain that regional umpires, as a body, are very weak. Shillingford and Narine have never been “reported” in the Caribbean before international umpires queried their bowling actions.
During the recent All-Stars cricket series in USA, I had a tremendous conversation on cricket with three international umpires; Steve Davis (Australia), Simon Taufel (Australia) and Marais Erasmus (South Africa); standing adjudicators of that series. Only the latter is still internationally active, but the knowledge, know-how and information imparted will last me a cricketing lifetime!
Umpiring has never been easy, this coming from a past player who has had run-ins with umpires everywhere. While confrontational, I was always fair, if not always reasonable. These days, with at least ten television cameras and sound devices picking up every nick, umpires are under the pump, but, like bad cricketers, if they cannot cope, then they must also be pastured.
What those three umpires explained fully was that the process of having a player’s action questioned, then if found dubious, to be “reported” after a game, then scrutinized and re-scrutinized, is a prolonged process of necessary checks and balances.
In the distant past, as was done to my fast-bowling hero of all time, Barbados’ and WI’s Charlie Griffith, whose 77th birthday is 14th December next, and Australia’s left-armed fast-man Ian MecKiff, once an umpire or cricket organization deemed or calls that bowler a “thrower”, that was that; career in jeopardy, maybe even, as in Meckiff’s case, career dead!
Nowadays, it is much more in reference to a player’s financial livelihood from bowling in cricket. Therefore, negative assessments by standing umpires, match referees, adjudicating personnel and university laboratories, eventually International Cricket Council, must be seen to be correctly prescribed and completed.
In Narine’s case, these have been done several times over. He has, again, been found to be in excess of ‘arm-flex’ allowed to be legal, which now puts his entire cricketing future in real jeopardy. But where are those most culpable elements in all this, those stupid, fawning coaches?
To suggest that a bowler is “pelting”, per today’s cricketing rules, is very difficult, since no-one alive can precisely identify when an arm is “flexed” fifteen (15) degrees or more. That is why modern technology has had to become involved. No longer is a less that straight arm simply accepted as a “throw”. Nowadays, obviously, there are varying degrees of “pelting!”
World-leading legal practitioners and experts suggest that “eye witnesses to any event make the worst witnesses in courtrooms, for eyes do not always tell the truth!” Remember that even international umpire Nigel Llong got it wrong recently despite the excellent technology available.
Brian Lara, who also participated in All-Star games, and after whom that stadium in Toruba, near San Fernando, was named, correctly commented that “being a good international cricketer does not necessarily make one a good coach.”
Agreed, but some present coaches are so poor, because of their lack of international, even regional experiences, and fear, that they cannot or will not correct obvious bowling maladies. Enjoy!
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