Almanac (Local ) Cricket – Don’t Annoy Me About ‘Chuckers’


We at the Merks have a Doubtful Bowling Action Procedure, which itself is utterly doubtful (if something can be utterly doubtful), but I have a simple solution, I think the only solution, to the whole problem of ‘chuckers’ that can be applied in Park Cricket. Before I tell you about my solution, I want to talk about the anatomy of the arm and something called ‘visual summation’. Then I shall dismiss the ICC and their dog’s breakfast that they call their response to this problem.


If you have an opinion on this issue and do not know what the ‘carry angle of the arm’ refers to, please keep quiet around me about this issue so I will only think you are stupid. If I was as bright as I think I am, I would now put in a few downloaded diagrams of human arms showing the carry angle of the human arm. Arms are not straight!!!!! Girls are more bent than us blokes in some ways.


By now many of you will be saying, “You idiot Phil. The Law requires the arm not to straighten as it travels from the horizontal to the vertical. It can be as bent as a politician’s promise to get the budget back in surplus, but as long as it doesn’t straighten, it’s a fair delivery.”


There are two problems that we cannot get away from. The arm is bent and, also, it rotates as you deliver the ball. The next problem is the ability of the human eye to deliver information to the brain and the processes that the brain does to make sense of it all. Unfortunately, we are organic life forms.


Let’s visit the ICC and the testing they started to do many years ago. The first thing that they found, and this was a shock to all who have not studied human physiology and anatomy, was that all bowlers straighten their arms to some degree as they deliver the ball. I always assumed this would be the case. The cynics assume that ‘15 degrees of allowable straightening’ was decided on to allow a certain sub-continental spinner to continue to play.


The ICC are a group of sovereign countries, so coming to a consensus on the procedure to be followed is obviously a difficult task and I think they have done the best possible job of this, but I have a fundamental problem with the aim of their testing. Let me explain.


Bowlers should get their extra pace, bounce and spin from anything that isn’t related to straightening the arm. If, when tested, the bowler can spin the ball more when he straightens his arm more, this to me is unfair. We can measure how many revolutions a spinner is putting on the ball in a match now. The technology is that good. We can do the same with the speed of the ball.


So when a bowler is being tested in these lab conditions, I think the central question should be, does the flexion (remember, everyone is doing it on every delivery) give him an unfair advantage?


The question in Park cricket is buggered as we can only use human sight to adjudicate, and it’s not up to the task. There is a thing called ‘visual summation’. What is the smallest time we can tell that two events have occurred rather than our perception blurring it into one event? Think about watching TV and the frames per second that they put up quick enough that we blur it into continuous motion.


There are so many things on the cricket field that umpires are asked to judge that occur much quicker than those streams of TV stills. I won’t bore you with the maths, but it is possible for the human eye to detect a bowler, delivering a slow delivery, straightening his arm.


In the Merks someone will be sent out to have a look at any bowler that is reported under the Doubtful Action Procedure. But have no doubt that the person going out will have never heard about the above issues (well, I suppose he may be a reader of this website), so anything he decides will be arrant nonsense. He will probably send in a report that the bloke only throws his faster one, the delivery speed above which the human eye could be trusted to discern any straightening. He will prove himself to be an idiot.


So what would I do since we cannot spend the money to get a physiologically sound answer? My solution is so simple, cheap and puts the control to the players and their clubs. When a bowler is reported for a doubtful action, his club takes a video of him bowling which they send to all the teams that his bloke is going to play against. The opposition clubs can say “yes, he can bowl”, or “no he cannot”. I have been banging on about this for years and it’s the only way forward in Park cricket that I can come up with.


So why did that very good young umpire annoy me? The bloke is a computer whiz kid, bright as a button and very keen to become as good an umpire as possible, but he reckoned that the bloke we reported only threw his quicker one. If you have got this far in this article, you should realise that a quicker one would be far too quick for the human perception system to pick a straightening in the arm.


This platitude, “he only throws his quicker one”, is something I have heard for many years, and now you know that any bloke saying such a thing doesn’t realise he should keep his mouth shut and not annoy me.





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  1. At the risk of annoying you, Phil, how do you feel about off spinners (at any level) bowling in long sleeves?

  2. Let’s make it fair and insist on all batsmen batting with straight arms. It all sounds like gobble- de- dook to me, but then, what would i know about the price of fish.

  3. Bernard Whimpress says

    Witty sa usual, Phil
    By The Way are you coming over for the Test?

  4. Of course and the numbers are multipling, Two Pete’s and one Sunil are attending with me.

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