Melbourne: Former Australian umpire Darrell Hair, who called spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing, has said in his book that several international bowlers, including India’s Harbhajan Singh, have “highly suspicious action”.
Hair made the claim in his book, “In The Best Interests Of The Game”, in which he wrote that bowlers were chucking during the World Cup.
He also said that cricket administrators are still shirking the issue of illegal bowling actions.
“I noted that Harbhajan Singh, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Hafeez, Johan Botha and Abdur Razzaq all bowl with a highly suspicious action that may or may not fall within the 15 degrees of tolerance. But the chances of their being reported are slim,” said, Hair’s book.
“As to the chances of their being actually called during a match, absolutely zero.”
Harbhajan, who completed 400 Test wickets in the series against West Indies, first came under scrutiny for his action at the initial stage of his career in 1998, but was later cleared.
The off-spinner was then reported twice in three months in 2005 for suspect action while bowling the doosra. The ICC cleared his action the same year, saying that the straightening of his elbow fell within the permitted limits.
Hair, who was asked to step down after a 78-Test umpiring career from 1992 to 2008, courted many controversies during his tenure, the biggest of them being the Muralitharan episode.
Hair leaves no doubt that he believes the International Cricket Council modified its playing conditions to accommodate Murali’s controversial bowling action.
“Muralitharan was reported by match referee Chris Broad during Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2004 for illegal straightening of the arm at the elbow during his bowling action,” Hair wrote.
“Tests on April 1, 2004, at the University of Western Australia revealed that he straightened his arm by an average of 14 degrees, which was 9 degrees in excess of the tolerance level for spin bowlers mandated by the ICC at the time. On 5 February, 2005, the ICC’s Chief Executive Committee approved proposals aimed at ending the ‘malaise’ over illegal bowling actions.”
“Under the new proposals, the tolerance limit for straightening of the arm for all bowlers was to be set at 15 degrees, which studies had shown is the point at which the naked eye can make out excessive straightening.
“Amazingly, this was one degree more than the average of Muralitharan’s arm straightening!”