The Middle Australia Report: Meckiff wasn’t a chucker

The much maligned left armer from Mentone, Ian Meckiff, may not have been a chucker after all. For those unfamiliar with Meckiff he has two claims to fame. His first was being the batsman run out to cause the famous tied test against the West Indies in 1960. Meckiff’s second, and less glorious, notoriety was in the first Test against South Africa in December 1963 when he was called for throwing by umpire Colin Egar. This incident effectively ended Meckiff’s cricket career.
I never saw Meckiff bowl live as I was barely alive when he was called for throwing, however I have seen old television footage and the relatively well known sequence of photos from side on which are below.

(Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

From the images there is enough doubt to suggest Meckiff was no more a chucker than Shoab Akhtar or Murali. Importantly there is a valid explanation why Meckiff wasn’t a chucker, but rather had anatomical anomalies which made him appear to be throwing when he wasn’t. Bowling is a three dimensional skill.
There are possibly two anatomical irregularities which when combined would have made Meckiff’s action look dodgy. The first would be if Meckiff couldn’t straighten his arm which is the case with Murali. The second would be if Meckiff had a large ‘carry angle’. Carry Angle is the angle the forearm sits out of alignment with the upper arm. Everyone has it to varying degrees. Shoab and Murali have massive Carry Angles. The front-on photo below shows Meckiff had a large carry angle.

(Source: ESPN Cricinfo)

When any bowler delivers a ball in the last phase the upper arm internally rotates for extra speed. For someone who can’t straighten their arm and has a large carry angle (e.g. Murali and quite possibly Meckiff) when they are viewed especially from side-on (or close to) it appears their arm goes from being bent to straight i.e. a no-ball. In reality all that happens is the elbow stays at close to the same angle and due to upper arm rotation causes the arm to align with the side-on view or camera angle making arm look straight i.e. a legal delivery.
Therefore based on biomechanics (the noble science) Ian Meckiff was quite possibly not a chucker, but a victim of an umpire wanting to make a name for himself. More to come on that topic later.
The Chairman


  1. I’ll open the innings.

    They changed the rule with relation to Murali (good bloke and all) to appease the power brokers on the sub- continent who were seeking a bit of retribution from the time when the Brits were marching about in pompousity.

    Whether Meckiff ‘chucked’ or not Murali did but contemporay cricket paid the price for the sins of the Poms with a blatent politically charged rule change that was discriminatory, at the least.

  2. Totally agree with Phanto regarding the rule being changed (15deg?) to
    accommodate Murali and appease the sub-continentals.

  3. Paul Spinks says

    I think it’s fair to say that had Murali played his cricket in England or Australia he wouldn’t have progressed through the ranks to become an issue.
    In more recent times there was a Victorian bowler (can’t recall his name) who’s action Richie Benaud described as “interesting” while commentating during a State game. Very soon after that, this bowler disappeared from the scene.
    I don’t know the details about Meckiff, but if his action looked remotely dodgy to the naken eye authorities would’ve been keen to avoid an embarrasment.

  4. MA, the perennial vexed argument of cricket this one. Having lived down Mentone way for many years, I’ll simply say that Meckiff’s arm wouldn’t be the first wonky contribution from those parts.

    Phantom, Smokie, I cede some of your points re the process that led to 15 degrees, but will demur on Murali specifically. With all the scrutiny he has been subjected to over decades, still nothing has been conclusively settled. It all remains a matter of individual opinion. Therefore, let it go I say. If nothing is proved by now, the verdict must be innocent.

  5. Laurie Prosser says

    I lived in Mentone, three doors from Test umpire Bill Smyth. He stated emphatically Meckiff did not “chuck”. Poms couldn’t face him, look at his figures!

  6. Laurie Prosser you are spot on. I am Bill Smyth’s son and was heavily involved in junior cricket at Mentone and District Cricket at Prahran. Dad no balled a number of cricketer’s over the years, but was adamant the Ian’s action was legit. Dad felt his test match career was limited to 3 tests because he refused to follow instructions to call Ian. I could say so much more but am reluctant to because of Ian’s wishes to not want the details Dad has alerted to being aired whilst he is alive. The truth will come out one day.

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