After the KP gate saga, which is still very much making news, another major controversy has hit cricket. Controversial former umpire Darrell Hair has come out and stated that the stern action being taken by the ICC over suspect actions is a bit too late. According to the Australian, the ICC move has come 20 years too late. He also added that he had predicted a generation of chuckers in the making owning to the lack of steps being taken by cricket's governing body. That's not all, Hair has gone to the extent of commenting that Harbhajan Singh and Saqlain Mushtaq have inspired a generation of chuckers in international cricket.
But obviously, Hair's comments have not gone down too well with the usually outspoken Harbhajan who had asked Hair to simply shut up. This controversy has come at a highly inopportune moment for the sport, with the game's showpiece event only months away. But, if there is one positive that can be taken out of it, it is the assumption that following the stringent crackdown, the menace of throwing will be reduced to a significant extent in the game. Strict measures by the ICC, albeit a bit late, might put off future bowlers from experimenting too much with their actions.
The pertinent question that needs to be asked here is what has brought the game into such a tricky situation. And, the ICC shouldn't shy away from taking its share of the blame. It is a fact that they complicated the matter beyond requirement. The cricketing body's approach to the problem was too mechanical. A few degrees here and there in bio-mechanical testing and suspect bowlers were cleared. The more pertinent approach here would have been to give more powers to the umpires. The men in the middle could have been better judges about whether or not a bowlers action was suspect.
Coming back to Hair, his digs at Saqlain, Harbhajan and the rest are completely unfair. First things first, although both Harbhajan and Saqlain were reported for their actions, they underwent all the procedures specified by the ICC, and returned only when their actions were deemed completely legal. Whether they chucked or not is another matter altogether. The fact is that they bowled within the rules of the game, and did not cross the set arm bend limit. If Hair knew Harbhajan, Saqlain and the others were throwing the ball around, he should have brought that to the notice of the ICC during his umpiring days, which he never did.
Amidst all the confusion, the game of cricket, and most Test nations are struggling, and the controversy has really put the ICC on a sticky wicket. The latest being heard is that they have better technology in place now. Hence, they are doing away with the old system now, and applying the new procedures as a result of which many bowlers are getting caught in the act. The ICC, however, now has a major responsibility to clean up the dirt. The initiative they have taken cannot be left incomplete. With the World Cup around the corner, that is a massive task.
--By A Cricket Analyst