Stamping out on illegal bowling took a new turn with Sri Lanka Cricket’s Illegal Bowling Action Committee (IBAC) headed by former Sri Lanka double international Ishak Sahabdeen taking tangible steps to wipe out the menace from the country.
Sahabdeen’s aim is to ensure that none of the bowlers they send for the upcoming ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh from January 22-February 13 comes under scrutiny.
“At the last under-19 World Cup held in UAE in 2014 three of our bowlers were reported for suspect actions this is not a good sign for us as a cricketing playing nation,” said Sahabdeen who represented his country at cricket and hockey. “We want to make sure that we are clean at the next World Cup.”
As a first step towards achieving that goal Sahabdeen said that seven bowlers are to be sent to the ICC accredited testing centre for suspected bowling actions in Chennai ahead of the under-19 World Cup, to have their bowling actions scrutinised and corrected.
To stamp out this malady overall the IBAC are to come down firmly on school coaches from the junior level onwards who after a period of time (which has to be determined by SLC) will have their coaching licence suspended or cancelled if they fail to report any bowlers with suspect actions or correct them.
“With the under-13 and under-19 seasons commencing in the first week of September we have requested the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association to register each certificate number of the respective coaches like they register the players,” said Sahabdeen.
Further, Sahabdeen said that the IBAC has decided to ban schoolboy cricketers from wearing long sleeves, elbow guards, skinnies and tubings at the time they are bowling so that their elbows are exposed. This rule will be implemented from September at the start of the under-13 and under-19 school season.
Sahabdeen said that of the 170 bowlers reported in domestic cricket so far for the year which includes from under-13 age group to Premier League, 80 percent of them are off-spinners.
“These bowlers try to bowl the doosra and the faster ball and eventually end up being reported for throwing because they exceed the 15 degree limit,” said Sahabdeen.
More startling than anything else is the fact that only 41 of the 170 bowlers have been cleared by the IBAC, the rest (129) Sahabdeen fears will have their careers curtailed as nothing can be done about their bowling actions.
Sahabdeen holds the coaches responsible for such a sad state of affairs.“There are two sides to it. In most instances it is their ignorance of what constitutes an illegal delivery and the other is that they don’t want to correct the bowler’s action or report him as it would reduce his effectiveness and the team performances would suffer eventually,” said Sahabdeen.
In order to educate and create an awareness amongst the school and club coaches the IBAC has come out with posters printed in all three languages (Sinhala, English and Tamil) which is to be displayed at all school and club grounds and on notice boards of schools and clubs that don’t have a ground of their own. The poster titled “Suspect Bowling Action” clearly gives the message to everyone what constitutes an illegal delivery.
Further the IBAC recently got down Richard Dunne, the ICC Human Resources Manager to educate the coaches on suspect bowling actions. Workshops were conducted in Colombo, Galle, Dambulla and Kandy with a total of 160 coaches attending.
Apart from Sahabdeen the IBAC comprises former Sri Lanka fast bowlers Graeme Labrooy and Eric Upashantha, along with Umpires’ Educator Tyron Wijewardene and Head of Coaching Unit Jerome Jayaratne.
Sahabdeen said the drive to eradicate illegal bowling gathered momentum after Sri Lanka off-spinner Sachitra Senanayake was reported for a suspect action during the tour of England in 2014.