The bent arm – change the Law please

A cricket post, just to help me stop chuntering about this issue.

Just like every other community, cricket people love to get in a huff about something. For English cricket people this week’s talking point is Saeed Ajmal‘s action, specifically whether he bowls the ball or throws it.

I imagine any non-cricket people have stopped reading by now so there’s no need to explain what the difference between throwing and bowling is. If you’re interested it’s defined in Law 24.2.

Why is throwing outlawed? In 1822, pressure from players forced the authorities to allow roundarm, then later overarm bowling. Once the bowler could raise the ball above his shoulder the option of flinging it hard at the stumps became an option, so by 1864 the Laws explicitly prevented bowlers from throwing the ball.

In other words, throwing was outlawed to give the batsman a chance against fast deliveries and for no other reason.

Nowadays the fast bowler’s action has been refined to the extent that it’s difficult to believe the ball could be propelled any faster by throwing it. But maybe if throwing was allowed then more people could get up into the 90mph zone. The balance of power would shift towards fast bowling – not a good thing if you’re a fan of the spinner like me. So Law 24.2 is required to keep the yin and yang of cricket in harmony.

Some fast bowlers are still suspected of throwing: Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee were accused of throwing early in their careers. But the majority of throwing controversies recently have been about mystery spinners like Muttiah Muralitharan.

My question (finally) is this: what’s wrong with a bent elbow if you’re a spinner? The law is there to protect a batsman from fast deliveries.

My proposal is that the Laws 24.2 and 24.3 to be restricted to fast balls only.

You may say that this asks the square-leg umpire to distinguish between a fast ball and a slow one. Well he already has to: Law 42.6 (b) asks him to No Ball a beamer unless it is slow-paced. This is exactly the test he should apply to throwing.

Throwing is bad, except for a slow-paced delivery.

2 thoughts on “The bent arm – change the Law please

  1. Dear Dominic, I strongly disagree. Throwing is throwing full stop, regardless of the type of bowler. It is illegal and should be outlawed from the game. It saddens me to see so many so called professional cricketers straightening their arms from a bent position beyond the shoulder. It is an illegal delivery and should be given as a no ball as the law stipulates. This practice is bringing the game into disrepute and umpires around the world should call it as such. It is the ICC that changed the law to accommodate a number cricketres from the Indian sub continent with questionable actions. that said there are currently South Africans, West Indians and New Zealanders boths slow and fast with suspect actions. This does not afflict the English, Aussie or Sri Lankan sides.

    In my opinion Murali’s action was fine because he didn’t straighten his arm when delivering the ball. The Sri lankan spinners in the recent tests, Herath et al had perfectly acceptable actions.

    • Hi Philip. You say you disagree but you do not say why. Of course throwing is illegal, the Law is quite clear. Please tell me why it *should* be illegal for slow bowlers? Or are you against all innovation in cricket?

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