Where there is a game, there’s someone trying to find a hack. Over the years, cricketers have come up with many weird and wonderful ways to go around some rules and regulations but they always fall short.
There have been countless incidents of ball tempering, slowing down play, substitute fielders, falsely claiming wickets, match-fixing and many more. While chucking in cricket is not something that happens quite often, it is still talked about and monitored by the authorities with the highest of scrutiny.
Let’s have a look at what’s it all about.
In 1981, Underarm bowling was banned following a controversial move in the world cup series match between Australia and New Zealand where the black caps required 6 runs to call it a draw and were balled an underarm delivery. Today, there are only two bowling actions that are valid – ‘Over arm’ and ‘Round arm’.
So, What is Chucking?
According to the Cricket bowling rules, chucking in cricket refers to an illegal bowling action which occurs when a bowler throws the ball instead of bowling.
The bowler is considered to be chucking if he or she bends the elbow joint over 15 degrees while completing his delivery. The laws of the game also specify that only rotation of the shoulder can be used to impart velocity to the ball.
Bowling action rule
The official cricket bowling rules state that “a ball is fairly delivered in respect of the arm if, once the bowler’s arm has reached the level of the shoulder in the delivery swing, the elbow joint is not straightened partially or completely from that point until the ball has left the hand.”
Basically, once the bowling arm reaches the height of the shoulder, the elbow joint must not straighten until the ball is released. However, bowlers are allowed to flex or rotate their wrists in the delivery swing.
Why is Chucking Illegal in Cricket?
Chucking in cricket is illegal as it gives an added advantage to the bowlers in the game. If a bowler flexes his or her arm over 15 degrees, he or she generates more pace and that can be troubling to the batters.
Spinners commonly use chucking in cricket to their advantage by generating more rotations on the ball which is unfair to the batters and the sport in general.
What Happens if a Bowler Gets Reported for Chucking?
- If an official deems that a bowler is chucking, they detail this in their match report at the end of the game to the match referee.
- The match referee then, provides the ICC and the team manager with a copy of the report and a media statement is also issued claiming that the player has been reported for this action.
- The ICC then launches an independent investigation and a review by the ICC panel of human movement specialists group is initiated.
- Thereafter, the panel carries out tests and examination of the suspected bowler. If it concludes that the bowler has indeed made an illegal action, the player is suspended from international cricket till the action is remedied.
- After fixing or modifying the action, the player can seek a hearing from a review group for bowling made by a group of experts that are appointed by the ICC. Upon reassessment by the panel, if the player satisfies the limitations set by ICC, the suspension is lifted and may continue to perform in international cricket.
Should Chucking be Legalized?
The rules seem to be stacked against bowlers, and many believe that with the addition of rules such as Free-Hit, Super-Sub, and Power-play, even bowlers should be given some advantage.
Even though a lot of players in recent times have been reported for chucking in cricket, most famously, Sunil Narine from West Indies, keeps coming in and out of chucking bans with new bowling actions to suit the game. There is still a case for making chucking in cricket legal just to bring some excitement to the game.
Cricketers Who Have Been Accused of Chucking
Pakistan fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar was initially accused of chucking in cricket but it was later noted that he has a special condition called hyper-extension where the arm goes beyond the 180-degree angle, causing an illusion of chucking.
Sri Lankan off-spinner, Muthiah Muralitharan went through the same during 1995-1996 when he was first called for chucking in cricket by Ross Emerson. On 2nd February 2006, a decade later, Muralitharan was finally cleared off by the ICC in this regard.
In July 2004, Muralitharan was filmed in England bowling with an arm brace on to prove the special condition where his arms have a natural advantage of rotating in a certain way that may seem like chucking to the umpires. Indian off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh and West Indies mystery spinner, Sunil Narine have also been accused of chucking in international cricket. Among other famous players in international cricket, Brett Lee and Shabbir Ahmed came and English bowler, James Kirtley, came under scrutiny for this illegal action in the 1990s.