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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November 2004, 16:18 GMT
New law wipes slate clean
By Scott Heinrich

James Kirtley
I'm glad they've done the research, and it probably makes my action that much purer
James Kirtley

The International Cricket Council's proposal to relax the rules on illegal bowling actions retrospectively clears the name of every cricketer in history found guilty of chucking.

Not so long ago, even the slightest bending of the arm was frowned upon, but soon the levels of tolerance - how far a bowler can straighten his arm in delivery - will be so great as to accommodate virtually everybody.

The leeway afforded to bowlers will be increased to 15 degrees - a 50% hike for pacemen and a 200% rise for spinners.

The original levels of tolerance were hurriedly agreed when the actions of several high-profile players - including Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee - were brought to the ICC's attention at the turn of the century.

But it took the division of cricket caused by the controversial banning of a ball by Muttiah Muralitharan for the game's ruling body to move the goalposts even further apart.

Murali's doosra was found to be delivered with a 14-degree elbow movement and was subsequently banned, but he will be free to use it again when he returns from a shoulder injury.

The news may be music to the ears of Murali and his followers, but his detractors will view it as cricket changing the rules to accommodate a single individual.

Whichever side you are on, the new proposals offer belated consolation to those judged guilty of what was once perceived as the greatest sin in cricket.

Among players like Ian Meckiff, Geoff, Cope, Harold Rhodes, Henry Olonga, Murali, Akhtar and Lee is England's James Kirtley, whose action was reported during a one-day series in Zimbabwe in 2001.

Shoaib Akhtar
Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib was forced to remodel his action

At the time Kirtley saw it as a smear on his credibility, but he is not bitter that an act he was punished for just four years ago will soon not raise an eyebrow.

"I'm not sure this kind of technology was up to it back then, so the research would have been hard to do," Kirtley tells BBC Sport.

"Now they've got the cameras, and they've spent a good amount of time and money to do proper research on bowlers around the world.

"When my case was heard, I came in line with what was asked of me."

If anything, Kirtley sees the ICC's proposal as vindication he was doing nothing wrong.

"There will always be degrees of flexion or extension in the bowling action, which was proved a couple of years ago," he adds.

"I'm glad they've done the research, and it probably makes my action that much purer.

"If it allows people to play without gaining a daft advantage then it's good for the game, although there will be bowlers who will get nowhere near the 15-degree mark so it gives an awful lot of sway to an awful lot of people."

Kirtley hopes the new laws will protect players from the damage that can be done by being labelled a thrower.

"It's the most emotive issue in cricket, I think," he tells.

"You look back through history at bowlers who have had that slur against them. It's pretty heavy mud to shake off.

"Whenever it is mentioned around me, I can't help but be emotional because I've been through it and suffered like a few have."

In the ICC's brave new world that pain will be felt by almost no one.

Time will tell if that is a good thing or not.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: England bowler James Kirtley


Interview: Former England captain Geoff Boycott




SEE ALSO
Chucking rules set to be changed
10 Nov 04 |  Cricket
Murali has high hopes for doosra
26 Oct 04 |  Sri Lanka
Drawing the line on chucking
30 Jul 04 |  Cricket
ICC backs 'chucking' policy
19 Feb 04 |  Cricket
ICC to research chucking
18 Dec 03 |  Cricket


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