Blind, Deaf and Clueless: Chuckers, Part Two

This is the second part of some drivel titled ’Chuckers” and if you haven’t read the first bit, back track and do so.


The Law of Cricket that covers this  states:


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. This definition shall not debar a bowler from flexing or rotating the wrist in the delivery swing.


The laws are appallingly written. What the above means is that from the horizontal to the release of the bowler the arm must not straighten at all. The law states the elbow must not straighten. I cannot see that a joint can straighten at all. No change in the elbow joint means the arm has not straightened. If there is movement in the elbow joint, the arm has straightened and an umpire should call the delivery “No Ball”.


This sounds simple but it isn’t. Firstly the arm is not ever straight. Your arm is bent and I can very simply show what I am talking about. Go and get you wife or girlfriend, or if they are not about, get someone else’s girlfriend or wife. Make them stand facing you with their arms by their side, with their palms facing forward. You will see bend in their arms that is called the carry angle. It is more pronounced in women than in men (you could google it to find the exact angle but I cannot be bothered).


“Ha Ha, Phil”‘ I hear you say.” You have missed the point. The Law only is concerned about the arm straightening. The arm can remain bent but must not straighten”. The Law is only concerned with movement in the elbow joint as the arm passes from the horizontal to the vertical but the second component to this issue is the shoulder joint.


Now when I did my dental degree we actually had to learn things. I used to know the fifteen branches of the maxillary artery and their paths through the maxilla off by heart. Now the dental students sit around and discuss the branches of the artery but they cannot list them. We were educated by liberal amounts of humiliation. You were put on the spot, dragged out in front of your mates, and grilled by a demonstrator from the anatomy department who thought it important that you actually know the branches of the maxillary artery because a few, if cut, may kill someone. Safe spaces at the dental school were hard to find.


I learned the anatomy of the brain, head and neck and the thorax but I was spared the shoulder joint as it was classified as part of the arm. Thank God, because the shoulder joint is a wonderful thing, but has about three hundred moving parts and looks certain to fail the first time an umpire signals a four or gives someone out. It allows a wonderful range of movement but this means that the plane that contains the carry angle will rotate as a bowler is moving his arm from the horizontal to the vertical. You must be realising this chucking thing is getting tricky.


I did not dissect the eye. The optometry student gouged their way through the eye balls and sockets of our cadavers. Because we did not dissect the eye we were not expected to know anything about the eye. It was considered that if the anatomy of the eye was a black box to you it was a waste of time trying to teach you the histology, physiology and pathology of the eye. The physiotherapist student got the arms and legs so once again it saved me being grilled on the branches of whatever arteries are in the arm. And I know bugger all about the shoulder.


The human shoulder joint evolved from a joint that was designed so we could hang from trees into a joint that allows us to throw spears at woolly mammoths. The entire arm is designed to throw.


The last physiology lesson contained in this article concerns the detection of any straightening, from the horizontal to the vertical, and you may be thinking, if he knows nothing of the eye how can he pronounce on this topic but the issue is one of perception that is all done in the brain and that I have studied.


There is an issue of visual summation, which very simply boils down to how quickly do two events have to follow each other in time before our perception system simply blurs them together and we can only ‘see’ one event. Think of your TV. If the frames per second slow to about fifteen per second you will start to see the image ‘flicker’.


What does this interval of time mean in a cricket sense? Basically any delivery above a pedestrian medium pace will be flung down the pitch by an arm that has moved from the horizontal to the vertical quicker than one fifteenth of a second. Birds ‘see’ at a much greater frame per second as flying between moving branches demands it. Now I am not saying we should have birds umpiring cricket but I constantly have to put up with bird brains prognosticating on this issue of chucking.


Statements that prove to me you are an idiot:

  • A spinner only throws his quicker ball. This is only ball you cannot tell if he is throwing
  • Stand out at point rather than square leg. You get a better view from there. Really? Give me a break
  • He lost his rhythm and that’s why he threw a few

I have gone on a bit here but it is good therapy. Remember very few cricket people have ever considered the above. They, like people who have not dissected, should be banned from opening their mouths on this issue.


On my next part of this discussion I will look at what the ICC and the local cricket association to regulate this vexed issue but I feel much better getting all this off my chest.

FA Write from the heart


  1. Kevan Carroll says

    Easiest solution: allow throwing and any ball on the full above the waist is a no-ball. It seems everyone technically throws anyway…

  2. Where’s Roebuck when you need a deluded excuse for chucking? Or a conspicuous and deliberate omission when you are trying to make a far fetched point about chucking? Or just a blithe “well, everyone does it” when trying to excuse a wanton hurl?

  3. It is wonderful to read some of these posts. I would be interested in hearing your perspective on the role of doubt in decision-making. There is a common misconception that the rules provide that the batsmen should have the benefit of any doubt. There are some modes of dismissal, such as bowled from a valid delivery that do not raise any doubt. There are other modes which might, at least in part, turn on the umpire forming a view about the intention of the player, I have in mind here obstructing the field. and there are others, LBW being the classic, which requires a prediction about what might’ve happened in the future. What is the level of satisfaction that needs to be achieved when there is uncertainty? Eg it would probably hit the stumps? It would almost certainly hit the stumps?
    Another area in which uncertainty arises is when a batsmen hits his wicket. Take this example: A batsman plays back, hits the ball, sets off for a run, with the wicket-keeper nowhere near the stumps, and the umpires do not see the player hit the stumps. The bail is on the ground. It is a windless day. Can the batsman be given out? Geoff Lawson playing the Windies in the 1980s did this twice in an innings and the umpires refused the appeal, simply put the bails back on and carried on.

    The other topic is about appealing. There are some dismissals (maybe all – I don’t know) in which, in the absence of an appeal, a player is not given out. Assume there are four overs to go on a day’s play and the fielding side does not want to go in and start their innings. Or in a one dayer a batter with an appalling strike rate is soaking up the overs. What happens when the fielders refuse to appeal for bowled? Can anyone appeal – or do the fielders have to appeal through their captain? Can an appeal for bowled be withdrawn?

    Such a great column, I figured you were the one to ask.

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