Blind Deaf and Clueless: Chuckers Part Three

This is the third part on my thoughts about chuckers. To make any sense of this essay you have to read the second piece.


So we have arrived at a point, or more correctly we have considered the Laws of Cricket, the anatomy of the arm and the inability of human perception to detect what an umpire is required to detect before he can call a chucker, where we can ask a simple question.


Can a human umpire realistically detect that a bowler is straightening his arm as it passes from the horizontal plane until he releases the ball? On any delivery above slow medium you should now understand (if you have read part two) it is not. Organic life forms, which up to a few years ago included all cricket umpires, have their limitations.


The ICC decided to start testing bowlers under laboratory conditions and they found that all bowlers, on every delivery, straighten their arms to some degree. To any medically trained person this was not a surprise but it was to the cricket world. The ICC response was to allow some straightening. Now before the results of scientific testing showed that all bowlers are chuckers, most would say this sounds like you can be a bit pregnant but, in this case, everyone is a bit pregnant.


Most people believe they arrived at the fifteen degrees to allow a certain Sri Lankan to bowl and it is true that he straightened more than anyone else that was initially tested.


Everyone can see that when a bowler is tested “in the lab’ he will be on his best behaviour. The bowler being tested should be forced to spin the deliveries at the same rotations he puts on match day balls. (We can now measure this).


The bowler being tested should be forced to bowl at the same speed but there is a subtle, but essential, point that I think all miss. A bowler should get his variations in speed and spin from his arm and wrist. If it could be shown that a bowler gets more spin when he straightens his arm more I think this is unfair and should not be allowed. Similarly changes in pace, if generated by a greater ‘flex’ should not be allowed.


Bobby Simpson said that Charlie Griffiths faster yorker was impossible to pick. It is possible that it was a greater flex on this delivery that gave Griffiths this unique searing delivery.


It must be remembered that these regulations are a work in progress and I am confident that eventually all deliveries will be able to be monitored at the ground by the third umpire. The growth in imaging technology and computing power shows no sign of slowing. The cone beam cat scans I order routinely on my implant patients were inconceivable thirty years ago. The third umpire will eventually have a bit more to do.


However this blog is about Park Cricket, a far more important place then international cricket. What are we going to do with this issue of chucking?


Well, in the Merks we have a Doubtful Bowling Action Procedure that has so many problems that already it is being ignored by our Umpire’s Advisor. If you look it up if you immediately see that it has been written by people with no knowledge of human physiology and so is a farcical attempt to abdicate on this vexed issue. It relies on the human eye. Don’t hesitate to skip to the end.


Mercantile Doubtful Bowling Procedure

  1. The match umpires report to the Umpires Adviser that they have a concern about a bowler’s action.


  1. The Umpires Adviser arranges for one or more senior Melbourne umpires to formally observe the bowler’s action and to report back to the Umpires Adviser.


  1. If the reports are all clear, the reports are filed and no further action is taken.


  1. If the reports confirm a doubtful action, the Umpires Adviser contacts the player’s club, provides the club with copies of the ‘doubtful bowling action procedure’ and the observation reports, and advises the club that the bowler needs to correct his bowling action. Bowling coaches can be recommended if needed.


  1. The Umpires Adviser arranges for subsequent observations of the bowler’s action and reports in the weeks after the club has been notified.


  1. If the reports are all clear, the reports are filed and no further action is taken.


  1. If the bowler’s action is still observed to be doubtful, the Umpires Adviser submits a report to the MCA Secretary.


Written complaints from clubs to the MCA Secretary may be referred to the Umpires Adviser at step 2.


The emphasis in the procedure is on discretion when dealing with the player and his club, and on accurate independent observations of the bowler’s action. Observations of bowlers with doubtful bowling actions are more effective when the bowler is not aware that he is being observed. Players with doubtful bowling actions do not come to the attention of the MCA EC until the full procedure has been carried out.


This is a complicated, unwieldy procedure that an amateur competition cannot use but I have a simple alternative that uses only Point 1 i.e. the match umpires report to the Umpire’s Advisor that they have seen a chucker.


What happens next is that the players club must video the player both at training, and in a match, and provide this to all the other clubs that this player will play against. An opposition club, having seen the video, have the right to say that he will not be allowed to bowl against us.


We at the Park level cannot properly test chuckers at any level so higher authority (The MCA committee) is of no use. There are many precedents for the above suggestion in the Laws already where changes to match players, conditions, umpires and bowling methods are allowed by agreement. These generally allow captains to vary playing conditions. Captains can agree to a change in the nominated players once a match as started. Captains have to agree to allow a complete change in one of the umpires. Captains can agree to forgo the tea break. Underarm bowling is allowed if there is an agreement in place to allow it.


What chuckers do is that they make games unpleasant. I have had a few games where players have started to call out ‘no ball’ when a chucker has been on and it becomes a difficult situation for us umpires to control. That’s why umpires don’t call these bowlers. It ruins your day.


What my simple regulation will do is put the running of the game back to each club where I believe it belongs.


I also think that a system like this will reduce the large numbers of subcontinent player we see in Park Cricket with these doubtful actions and that Sri Lankan fellow would have never been seen in international cricket.


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  1. The fact the certain Sri Lankan bowler got to Test cricket says volumes about Sri Lankan cricket’s determination to get him into the national picture. They obviously knew he had a rank action, but because he took wickets they were prepared to roll the dice. In Straya, a bowler with a similar action would not have even got to grade cricket.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Why did you feel compelled point out the origins of the alleged chuckers in your final paragraph Phil?

  3. In the last dozen years of umpiring I have only reported one non subcontinental player. I would have reported somewhere between ten to twenty subcontinent players (SCP). Now the SCP provide most of the off spinners that probably tend to chuck more than any other sort of bowling technique, but this cannot explain the dominance of SCP in the doubtful action fields.

    While I was the umpires advisor, once again, the doubtful action brigade was full of SCP although someone reported the same non SCP that I had reported several years earlier.

    I have read that when the Aussie test players went to Sri Lanka they saw doubtful bowling actions in the streets everywhere. This is largely SCP problem

  4. Just one more thing Swish. I assume you do not play Park cricket anymore. I would be interested in the opinions of any Park cricketer not playing in the Merks to see if this is a Merks thing only.

  5. The fact that the Sri Lankan bowler was allowed to get away with chucking for years means the damage is now done. There are quite a few spinners now whose suspect actions are allowed to perform at the highest level, a situation we can’t resolve overnight.

    Re the nameless Sri Lankan chucker can we concur with Bishen Bedi, that these wickets be recorded as run outs?


  6. Peter Warrington says

    it’s really interesting. my almost-9 is playing cricket for the first timee. she chucks it with gusto. couldn’t comprehend bowling with a straight arm. but it clicked at her second “session” in our hallway. now it’s second nature to her. her 10 yr old friend uis exactly the same, bangs them down Lance Cairns style.

    which makes me suspect that imitation really is important in this.

    it’s also interesting that offies offend. I used to bowl this pseudo doosra with a tennis ball, it was unplayable. but in hindsight my arm was coming over real slow and defnitely not as straight as when I bowled pace, or terrible attempts at leggies. the lack of purchase on the ball from the wrist seems to either reequire, or possibly even lead to, all those jerky responses. simple solution – ban offies!

  7. As I have no doubt ranted before, at the very least offies should not be allowed to bowl with long sleeves. There is one particular former international cricketer who has been called for chucking in the past. In a recent BBL game he bowled in long sleeves but when the match went to super over he came out to field in short sleeves. Drawing own conclusion.

  8. Peter Warrington says

    make them all wear pingers that go ping at 15%. have an arm-flex monitor on screen to go with the speed “gun” and the revv counter (what happened to that).

    get Watto to adjudicate. he is a decent man.

  9. Throughout the 1970’s-1980’s the scourge of chucking had almost gone. Very few cases popped up.

    Between 1967-1995 no one was called in a first class match in Australia. Two Australian bowlers were called once each in this time; Bruce Yardley, later Jim Higgs. Then Muttiah Muralitharan was called at the ‘G’ for chucking. The outcry condemning Umpire Darrell Hair was deafening. Subsequently chucking seems back in vogue.



  10. Peter Warrington says

    it’s interesting reading Ryan’s Hughes book and how Wayne Clark, who was never called, was tainted. Basically a gentleman’s agreement with the Poms, dating back to the furore in 58-9 I think?

    cannot imagine Higgsy chucking one but Roo’s stop-start stilt and funky grip might possibly have come unstuck. Sang Hue certainly thought so.

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