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In the sport of cricket, throwing, commonly referred to as chucking, is an illegal bowling action which occurs when a bowler straightens the bowling arm when delivering the ball. Throws are not allowed. The Laws of Cricket specify that only the rotation of the shoulder can be used to impart velocity to the ball – a bowler's arm must not extend during the bowling action. If the umpire deems that the ball has been thrown, they will call a no-ball which means the batsman cannot be given out from that delivery.
After biomechanical testing showed that all bowlers flex their extended arms to some degree, rules were changed. Current regulations of the International Cricket Council (ICC) set a limit of 15 degrees of permissible straightening of the elbow joint for all bowlers in international cricket. This law applies between the point at which the bowling arm passes above shoulder height and the point at which the ball is released. The limit is to allow only the natural flexing of the elbow joint which happens during the course of legal delivery.
The charge of 'throwing' against a bowler is one of the most serious and controversial that can be made in cricket, as a bowler with an illegal action must take steps to correct their action or face effectively being banned from the game.
Law 24, Clause 3 defines a fair delivery with respect to the arm:
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.
Before the advent of developed biomechanical and audiovisual technology, Law 24 Clause 3 was implemented by the field umpires, who judged a delivery as illegal or "thrown" on visual judgement alone. The law against throwing has not changed in its essence since overarm bowling was legalised in 1864.
Tom Wills, Australia's most revered cricketer of the mid-19th century, was also its most controversial and he was often accused of (and admitted to) throwing. Many of his contemporaries recalled his trickery: "[Wills] used to say to the umpire, 'Just look at my feet, will you; I have a bad habit now and then of going over the crease.' The umpire would look at Tom's feet, and Tom would let go a throw for all he was worth."In 1872 Wills became the first cricketer to be called for throwing in a major Australian match, effectively ending his first-class career.
In the early 1880s there were a number of bowlers who were widely considered to have unfair actions, with the Lancashire pair of Jack Crossland and George Nash coming in for particular criticism. After playing for Kent against Lancashire in 1885, when he faced the bowling of Crossland and Nash, Lord Harris decided to take action. He persuaded the Kent committee to cancel the return fixture. Later that season, Crossland was found to have broken his residential qualification for Lancashire by living in Nottinghamshire and Nash dropped out of the side. Thus the two counties resumed playing each other the following season. Harris's Wisden obituarist wrote: "there can be no doubt the action of Lord Harris, even if it did not entirely remove the throwing evil, had a very healthy effect on the game."
Sydney Pardon, the editor of Wisden, accused quick bowler Ernest Jones of throwing during Australia's tour of England in 1896 but it was left to an Australian umpire, Jim Phillips, to "call" Jones for throwing in the Melbourne Test in 1897. The same umpire ended the great C. B. Fry's bowling career by calling him for throwing. Pardon considered the end of the career of the famous Corinthian bowler "a case of long-delayed justice".
Phillips went on to call Lancashire and England fast bowler Arthur Mold in 1900 and 1901, all but ending his productive career. Mold took 1,673 wickets in first-class cricket at only 15.54 apiece, bowling at high pace with a sharp 'break back' from just a four pace run up, but his bowling had always attracted as much controversy as praise. He took 192 wickets in 1895 and was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1892 but he left the first-class scene after the 1901 season and Phillips' intervention.
The Australian aboriginal fast bowler Eddie Gilbert was another fast bowler who generated extreme pace from a remarkably short run. Standing 5 feet 7 inches (170 cm) tall and 9 stone (130 lb; 57 kg) in weight he took wickets at a prodigious rate in the late 1920s in Queensland club cricket. He was chosen for Queensland against New South Wales Colts in 1930 and took 6 wickets but the Brisbane Courier's correspondent "Long On" was moved to describe his whipped catapult action as "almost a throw". He was picked for Queensland's Sheffield Shield side and bowled with great success. Queensland selectors responded to complaints from New South Wales by filming his arm action in slow motion but took no action against him. His most famous spell came against Don Bradman on 6 November 1931. He dismissed the NSW opener with his first ball, a vicious bouncer, then knocked Bradman's bat out of his hands with the next. The next delivery knocked Bradman over and the third had him caught behind. A month later, playing against Victoria, he was repeatedly called for throwing. He played on for Queensland, bowling at a reduced pace, and in 1934–35 headed the Queensland averages. He was a victim of legislation outlawing intimidatory bowling, in the wake of the Bodyline affair and retired in 1936, having taken 87 first-class wickets at 29.21.
An epidemic of throwing plagued cricket in the 1950s. Umpire Frank Chester wanted to no-ball the South African Cuan McCarthy for throwing in 1951 but was blocked by the authorities at Lords, Plum Warner commenting diplomatically "These people are our guests".
Surrey and England left-arm spinner Tony Lock was generally thought to throw his dangerous faster ball; on one occasion Doug Insole inquired if he had been 'bowled or run out' after Lock had shattered his stumps. He was in fact called for throwing in county cricket early in his career, and is said to have cleaned up his action towards the end of his career after seeing a bowler on video, commenting on how poor the bowler's action was and being shocked to discover it was himself.
Left-arm paceman Ian Meckiff helped Australia to regain the Ashes in 1958–59 but feelings ran high in the England team and press that Meckiff and others had bowled outside the laws and spirit of the game. (Meckiff was also alleged – along with several other Australia bowlers – to be breaking the spirit of the no-ball law by "dragging" – grounding the back foot behind the bowling crease, thus making the delivery legal, but dragging it through so that it was considerably in front of the crease before the front foot landed, thus bowling from illegally close to the batsman. Following arguments over this, the no-ball law was changed to rely on the bowler's front foot being grounded behind the popping crease, rather than the back foot being grounded behind the bowling crease.) Elder statesmen on both sides, including Gubby Allen and Don Bradman, resolved to clear the air before Australia's tour of England in 1961. In 1963–64, Meckiff was called by Colin Egar in the First Test against South Africa in Brisbane, ending his career.
Twenty-one-year-old South African Geoff Griffin, who had already been called when playing for Natal, was called in May 1960 while playing against MCC at Lords and his test career was ended by umpire Frank Lee who called him four times during the Second Test. Remarkably he claimed a hat trick during the test but South Africa lost by an innings, prompting an exhibition match to be staged as the Queen was due to visit the ground. Griffin was called by umpire Syd Buller, ending an over bowling underarm when he was no-balled again for not informing the umpire of a change of action.
West Indian fast bowler Charlie Griffith, perhaps the most feared fast bowler of his generation, was often suspected of throwing his faster ball although he was not called in Test matches and the promising career of Derbyshire's Harold Rhodes was stunted by constant speculation about the legality of his action. He was 'called' while playing against the South African tourists in 1960 by Paul Gibb but though he was eventually cleared and played on with great success for Derbyshire through the decade, he played just twice for England.
In more recent times bowlers such as England's James Kirtley, Australia's Brett Lee and Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar and Shabbir Ahmed have come under scrutiny to varying degrees.
Muttiah Muralitharan, one of the modern era's most celebrated exponents of spin bowling was dogged by controversy over his bowling action for much of his international career. From his debut for Sri Lanka he was under scrutiny from umpires due to an unusual hyperextension of his congenitally bent arm during delivery. Despite initial criticism, the first occasion when his action became a real issue was when Australian umpire Darrell Hair called him for throwing during the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, 1995. Hair publicly stated that he would not hesitate to call Murali for throwing again, given the opportunity and considered his bowling action "diabolical". The inability of cricket's officials to agree on the legality of Muralitharan's action and the reluctance of other umpires to call him for throwing meant Hair was isolated and was later excluded from officiating in matches involving Sri Lanka. Subsequent bio-mechanical tests exonerated Muralitharan's action, showing that he did not extend his arm any more than many other bowlers with legal actions. This testing never completely cleared his action in the eyes of his critics, who claim the extension of the arm differs between bowling in testing and in games and also when he bowls particular deliveries. During testing at the University of Western Australia several independent witnesses, including former cricketer Bruce Yardley, were present to ensure Muralitharan bowled as he would in match conditions.
Since the mid-1990s when Pakistani off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq pioneered the doosra, off spinners who have bowled with a non-classical action that can produce this delivery have routinely been reported and investigated for throwing. Such bowlers include Harbhajan Singh, Shoaib Malik, Marlon Samuels, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Johan Botha, Shane Shillingford and Moeen Ali; Ali, at least, although never actually banned from bowling, has stopped attempting to bowl the doosra and now bowls classical off-spin. Saqlain is one of the few bowlers of the doosra whose action has never been called into question, although he was regularly no-balled for the more conventional sin of overstepping the crease.
Testing conducted in the 1990s in England revealed that during a delivery virtually all bowlers flex and extend their arms naturally to some degree as it rotates around the shoulder. This testing revealed that the strict Laws of Cricket which banned any flexing of the arm were impossible to follow.
A set of tiered tolerance thresholds for the amount of allowable elbow extension, or straightening, were implemented: 10 degrees for fast bowlers, 7.5 degrees for medium pacers, and 5 degrees for spin bowlers. Enforcing these new measures proved problematic, as the laboratory based measurement systems used had a margin of error of at least 1 degree, and video based measurement systems were likely to have more, especially if inappropriately executed.
A later study from 2000 to 2003 showed that bowling actions that looked normal to the naked eye in many of the world's elite fast bowlers had, on average, 9 degrees of elbow extension during the bowling action. Some recorded elbow extension measuring between 10 and 15 degrees, yet none of these bowlers had ever had a problem regarding the legality of their bowling action. This testing showed that a zero tolerance threshold, and the tiered thresholds implemented in the late 1990s, had no or little scientific merit. The study, conducted by the Australian Institute of Sport Biomechanics department, led by cricket biomechanist Dr. Marc Portus, involved taking three-dimensional video based biomechanical analyses during tour, test and one-day international matches in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Results from this work indicated that video based measurement error in such a scenario, using best practice methodologies, was 3 degrees. This report was submitted to the ICC in 2003, which instigated the review of the illegal action definition and processes.
Subsequent to this the ICC received data from laboratory based analyses, on the basis that these measurement environments are more controlled, involving more sophisticated measurement technologies such as the Vicon Motion Analysis system. These were subject to less measurement error. Data was provided by the Australian Institute of Sport, the University of Western Australia and the Motion Analysis Corporation system from the University of Auckland. The ICC also carried out further video based three-dimensional analyses on all bowlers during the 2004 Champions Trophy in England. Regardless of the biomechanical measurement protocol used, a strikingly similar pattern emerged: the normal biomechanics of cricket bowling, whether it be spin or pace, features an element of elbow extension. The average extension of a normal, seemingly legal delivery was 8–10 degrees for all bowler types. There were virtually zero instances of no elbow extension at all in accordance with the original laws.
The ICC formed an expert panel comprising biomechanists Professor Bruce Elliott of The University of Western Australia, Dr Marc Portus of the Australian Institute of Sport and Dr Paul Hurrion from the UK who presented during a forum of a special ICC cricket sub-committee for illegal bowling actions in late 2003 in Dubai. The sub-committee was David Richardson, Angus Fraser, Aravinda De Silva, Michael Holding, Tony Lewis and Tim May. After this meeting the ICC decided to raise the elbow extension tolerance threshold to 15 degrees for all bowlers.
The new 15-degree limit was chosen after considering biomechanical findings from 130 pace and spin bowlers, the scientific issues with measurement, and that bowling actions considered to be "throw-like", or illegal, were usually measured to be well above 15 degrees of elbow extension, often in the 20 to 30-degree range.
If an umpire or match official deems that a bowler is contravening law 24.3, they detail this in the match report which is passed on the match referee. Within 24 hours of the conclusion of the match, the match referee provides the team manager and the ICC with a copy of the match report. A media statement is also issued that the player has been reported.
The first step in this process is an independent review of the player's bowling action which is carried out by a member of the ICC panel of human movement specialists, who will furnish the ICC with their report. If this report concludes that the player does have an illegal action, they are immediately suspended from all international cricket until they have remedied their action. If however, only a particular delivery is illegal, they can continue to bowl in international cricket provided they do not use the delivery in question until it has been remedied. Throughout the period of this independent assessment, the player can continue to bowl in international cricket.
If the player does not agree with the report, they can seek a hearing from a bowling review group made up of experts appointed by the ICC. This group will review evidence and decide, by a simple majority vote, on the legality of the player's action. If the player is cleared the suspension will be lifted immediately. A player who has been suspended from international cricket can continue to play domestic cricket under the supervision of his cricket Board. A player who has been suspended can at any time apply for a reassessment of their action. This usually happens after the player has completed a period of remedial work on their action. This reassessment is carried out in the same manner as the independent review. If the review concludes that the player has remedied their action the suspension will be lifted with immediate effect and they can start bowling in international cricket.
If the player is reported and suspended a second time within two years of his last report, he is automatically suspended for a period of one year before they can apply for a reassessment of their action. This event usually ends up effectively terminating a player's international career.
In general, although players with suspect actions now tend to be reported for investigations rather than suffering a public trial in front of spectators by being no-balled, umpires still have the right to call bowlers on the field if necessary.Such a case might occur when a bowler decides to deliberately and obviously throw the odd ball in a manner akin to a javelin throw as a surprise. Such cases have occurred throughout history of a bowler whose general action is not of concern but for whatever reason has appeared to deliberately throw a ball with a vastly different action. The Australian Test bowler Laurie Nash was once no-balled in such circumstances in the 1930s, with the journalists present opining that he had deliberately thrown the ball. The same was also true of David Gower (normally a batsman, and only a very occasional bowler) in the 1986 Eng/NZ Test at Trent Bridge: with New Zealand needing just one run to win with eight wickets in hand, rather than leaving the job of conceding the final run to a specialist bowler, Gower was brought on to bowl, and threw it with a fairly blatant illegal action (he normally bowled legally on the rare occasions that he bowled), conceding a no-ball for throwing. The batsman smacked the ball to the boundary anyway, and the four runs were awarded (in those days, if runs were scored from the bat off a no-ball, these were considered to replace the normal penalty run for a no-ball: the law has subsequently changed so that the penalty run is additional to any runs scored), leaving Gower with an unusual bowling analysis of conceding 4 runs from, technically, zero deliveries.
In a report by scientists commissioned by the ICC it was shown that Pakistani bowler Shoaib Akhtar and Indian bowler R. P. Singh were seen to extend their elbow joints by a negative angle with respect to the upper arm. This phenomenon, also known as hyperextension, can give the illusion of throwing. In the report it was seen that R. P. Singh maintained this negative angle throughout his delivery stride, while Akhtar sometimes bowled a quicker delivery by flexing this hyperextension. These actions are not considered to be chucking as they are due to the distinctive architecture of their elbows, possibly a congenital condition. Since these cricketers have no control over this hyperextension, any degree of hyperextension (past zero) is not included in the 15-degree extension tolerance threshold.
Deshabandu Muttiah Muralitharan is a Sri Lankan cricket coach, former professional cricketer, businessman and a member of the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. Averaging over six wickets per Test match, Muralitharan is widely regarded as the most successful and one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the sport. He is the only bowler to take 800 Test wickets and more than 530 One Day International (ODI) wickets. As of 2022, he has taken more wickets in international cricket than any other bowler.
Off spin is a type of finger spin bowling in cricket. A bowler who uses this technique is called an off spinner. Off spinners are right-handed spin bowlers who use their fingers to spin the ball. Their normal delivery is an off break, which spins from left to right when the ball bounces on the pitch. For a right-handed batsman, this is from his off side to the leg side. The ball breaks away from the off side, hence the name 'off break'.
Bowling, in cricket, is the action of propelling the ball toward the wicket defended by a batter. A player skilled at bowling is called a bowler; a bowler who is also a competent batter is known as an all-rounder. Bowling the ball is distinguished from throwing the ball by a strictly specified biomechanical definition, which restricts the angle of extension of the elbow. A single act of bowling the ball towards the batsman is called a ball or a delivery. Bowlers bowl deliveries in sets of six, called an over. Once a bowler has bowled an over, a teammate will bowl an over from the other end of the pitch. The Laws of Cricket govern how a ball must be bowled. If a ball is bowled illegally, an umpire will rule it a no-ball. If a ball is bowled too wide of the striker for the batsman to be able to play at it with a proper cricket shot, the bowler's end umpire will rule it a wide.
In cricket, an umpire is a person who has the authority to make decisions about events on the cricket field according to the Laws of Cricket. Besides making decisions about legality of delivery, appeals for wickets and general conduct of the Game in a legal manner, the umpire also keeps a record of the deliveries and announces the completion of an over.
Underarm bowling is a style of bowling in cricket. The style is as old as the sport itself. Until the introduction of the roundarm style in the first half of the 19th century, bowling was performed in the same way as in the sport of bowls, with the ball being delivered with the hand below the waist. Bowls may well be an older game than cricket and it is possible that it provided a template for delivering a ball with a degree of accuracy.
This is a general glossary of the terminology used in the sport of cricket. Where words in a sentence are also defined elsewhere in this article, they appear in italics. Certain aspects of cricket terminology are explained in more detail in cricket statistics and the naming of fielding positions is explained at fielding (cricket).
In cricket, a no-ball is a type of illegal delivery to a batter. It is also a type of extra, being the run awarded to the batting team as a consequence of the illegal delivery. For most cricket games, especially amateur, the definition of all forms of no-ball is from the MCC Laws of Cricket.
A doosra is a particular type of delivery by an off-spin bowler in the sport of cricket. The doosra spins in the opposite direction to an off break, and aims to confuse the batsman into playing an unavoidable shot.
In cricket, an extra is a run scored by, or awarded to, a batting team which is not credited to any individual batsman. They are the runs scored by methods other than striking the ball with the bat.
Run out is a method of dismissal in cricket, governed by Law 38 of the Laws of Cricket. A run out usually occurs when the batsmen are attempting to run between the wickets, and the fielding team succeed in getting the ball to one wicket before a batsman has crossed the crease line near the wicket. The incomplete run the batsmen were attempting does not count.
Arthur Webb Mold was an English professional cricketer who played first-class cricket for Lancashire as a fast bowler between 1889 and 1901. A Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1892, he was selected for England in three Test matches in 1893. Mold was one of the most effective bowlers in England during the 1890s but his career was overshadowed by controversy over his bowling action. Although he took 1,673 wickets in first-class matches, many commentators viewed his achievements as tainted.
A delivery or ball in cricket is a single action of bowling a cricket ball toward the batsman. Once the ball has been delivered, batsmen may attempt to score runs, with the bowler and other fielders attempting to stop this by getting the batsmen out. When the ball becomes dead, the next delivery can begin.
In cricket, roundarm bowling is a bowling style that was introduced in the first quarter of the 19th century and largely superseded underarm bowling by the 1830s. Using a roundarm action, the bowlers extend their arm about 90 degrees from their body at the point where they release the ball. Roundarm fell into decline after 1864 when the current style of overarm bowling was legalised, although W. G. Grace continued to use it to the end of his career.
Colin John "Col" Egar was an Australian Test cricket umpire.
Geoffrey Merton Griffin was a Test cricketer who toured England with the South African cricket team in 1960, appearing in two Test matches. A right-arm, fast bowler and lower order batsman, his selection for the tour was controversial, because of his suspect bowling action – some of his deliveries were judged to be thrown rather than bowled. The core of his problem was that, due to a childhood accident, he was unable to fully straighten his right arm.
Ross Alexander Emerson is a former Australian cricket umpire who is best known for calling Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing. He also played grade cricket for Petersham-Marrickville in the Sydney grade cricket competition. He is the brother-in-law of former Australian swing bowler Terry Alderman.
Darrell Bruce Hair is an Australian former Test match cricket umpire, from New South Wales. He stood on the International panel of umpires from 2002 to 2003, before he, along with fellow Australian Simon Taufel, and New Zealander Billy Bowden, was appointed to the ICC Elite umpire panel. After an ICC board meeting discussed his actions in a Test match between Pakistan and England in 2006 it was decided he should not umpire matches involving the Test playing nations. He was restored to the Elite Panel by the ICC on 12 March 2008 and stood in the England v New Zealand Tests at Old Trafford in May and Trent Bridge in June 2008.
The England team were very unhappy with the umpiring of the 1958–59 Ashes series, in particular the questionable actions of some bowlers in the Australian team. The televising of Test cricket was in its infancy and the notion of Test umpires using slow-motion replays or other modern techniques was considered absurd. Instead the umpires had to make judgements based on what they saw in a split-second, and honest mistakes were accepted as part and parcel of the game. However, touring teams sometimes felt that there was a natural bias towards the home team which led to some acrimony. Keith Miller thought "Mel McInnes, Colin Hoy and Ron Wright were our leading umpires in the 1954-55 M.C.C. tour of Australia, and I have no hesitation in saying that McInnes gave the finest exhibition of umpiring in a Test series that I have experienced". The England team thought well of him too, but in 1958-59 he lost the confidence of the England players and himself, appeared hesitant and gave some surprising decisions. In the Fourth Test he hesitated to give Ken Mackay out even after the batsman walked after snicking a catch off Brian Statham. Later Colin McDonald should have been run out when Fred Trueman flattened the stumps after his runner Jim Burke ran round the back of McInnes. McInnes gave him out, but then changed his mind and gave him not out as he had not seen whether Burke had made the run or not. On his next ball McDonald sportingly pulled his bat out of the way of the stumps to give Trueman "the easiest Test wicket I have ever taken". Trueman was affected again when he batted, given out caught by Wally Grout off Richie Benaud when he had dropped his bat and missed the ball. The England team became dispirited by the umpiring mistakes and, believing the officials to be against them, lost heart. As Fred Trueman wrote
...the Australian umpires demonstrated as much impartiality as a religious zealot. We just couldn't get favourable decisions and they no-balled England bowlers left, right and centre...one of the umpires consistently no-balled me...It was annoying, especially as this umpire seemed to allow Gordon Rorke to bowl with both his feet over the front line!...I suffered, as did others, from appalling umpiring decisions when batting...It was unbelievable."