Murali Manager: He Will Be Fine

  • 19 Aug 2007 09:45:35 GMT

    Apart from tolerating the comments down under, Murali will be bowling for the first time at the Gabba (Brisbane) and the Bellerive Oval (Hobart).

    The wickets for sure would be prepared favouring the pacies but still our spin magician can come out trumps.

    All The Best Murali.

  • 19 Aug 2007 14:19:35 GMT

    Go Murali Go, You Can Do It In Australia

  • 19 Aug 2007 17:40:27 GMT

    Another Australian mind game through Bedi who is in their payroll.

    There being more support for SL after Tom Moody`s stint with coaching, the best bet for the Aussie media is to use a non Australian.

    So.... Bishen Singh bedi become a su*ker once again because of his better half ties to Australia.

  • 20 Aug 2007 05:32:23 GMT

    Murali will hit 1000 for sure and Bedi has got jitters.

    Bedi is free to criticize Murali`s action but calling him a Monster cannot be condoned.

    Bedi will eat humble pie.

    Go Murali Go. Do with you Doorsha what others do with their verbal diarrhoea .

  • 21 Aug 2007 22:54:56 GMT

    Come on Murali, It is the high time for you to show ` Who you are` to the world.

    All the best my friend. ( you know my real name)

  • 22 Aug 2007 08:19:37 GMT

    Superb Analysis by Mukul Kesavan

    More than Muralitharan bigger than Bedi

    Bishan Bedi has been sent a letter by Muttiah Muralitharan?s lawyers for comments he made recently about the off-spinner`s bowling action and newspapers report that these lawyers are threatening to ?drag him to the courts? if his response is unsatisfactory. Bedi, as everyone knows, has form when it comes to denouncing Murali?s action. There used to be a whole chorus of ex-players who were happy to call Muralitharan?s action illegal. Now, as far as I can tell from the papers, there are just two. I remember reading Martin Crowe a few months ago, arguing that Muralitharan?s action ought to be formally examined at regular intervals and the second, of course, is Bedi.

    Muralitharan?s other critics (Michael Holding, Ian Botham etc.) have fallen silent. This could be because they?ve been persuaded by the ICC?s argument that modern cameras have proven beyond reasonable doubt that nearly all international bowlers ?flex? (i.e. bend and straighten) their arms while bowling. Consequently (I?m speculating here) they?ve come to accept that a bowler who keeps his flexion inside the 15 degree limit deemed legal by the ICC, isn?t a chucker.

    So what keeps Crowe and Bedi going? I don?t know Crowe at all, but I do know Bedi a little and it was at an event in Delhi organized around my book, Men in White, that he said the things that set off the controversy. The event was meant to be a chat about cricket with Bishan Bedi as the main attraction. I was on the panel because I?d written the book and Gaurav Kalra, the sports editor at CNN-IBN, was moderating the discussion.

    I asked Bedi why there hadn?t been a decent book written by an Indian cricketer in the last fifty years (apart for Sunil Gavaskar?s Sunny Days) despite the fact that lots of our Test cricketers were university boys. Erapalli Prasanna, his ?spin twin? in the late Sixties and Seventies had produced One More Over, a dreadful ghost-written thing, turned out in a week. Bedi didn?t really have an answer ask him a question and instead of an answer, you generally get a really funny story and, at some point, an opinion.

    So there was a story about Prasanna and his anxiety about being selected when Wadekar took over from Pataudi and a little later a story about Madan Lal playing Jeff Thomson from well beyond the leg-stump in Perth which stopped the discussion for a couple of minutes as the largely middle-aged audience screamed with laughter. Typically, Bedi followed up the story with the observation that we needed to remember that Madan Lal was playing the fastest bowler ever without a helmet and that there were one or two batsmen in the current Indian team who owed their reputations to the insurance they wore on their heads.

    Then Gaurav asked him a question about Muralitharan and Bedi weighed in with his views which were familiar since he?s aired them so often. But because they were aired here in the context of a discussion (and in response to questions from the audience) they offered offered clues to his position on Muralitharan in particular and chucking in general.

    Bedi seems to believe that the congenital crookedness of Murali?s arm is used as an alibi to shield him from the charge of chucking. Murali?s defenders make two points. One, if Murali?s arm seems crooked in the early part of his action, it isn?t a preliminary to straightening it: it?s just the way his arm is. Two, when an arm with a bent elbow is rotated, it creates an impression of a kink in the motion, which is an optical illusion.

    The reason Bedi won?t accept this as a reasonable explanation is because he believes that the only practical way of supervising legitimate bowling actions is with the naked eye, i.e. what the umpires see in the middle. He refuses to accept that decades of cricketing common sense can be overset by laboratory science or sophisticated cameras.

    There was a pointed question from the audience. Had Bedi seen the film of Murali bowling in a brace, where he bowled the off-spinner and the doosra (and turned them) with a rigid, inflexible arm? Bedi again offered his basic position: how do we know that Murali, when bowling a doosra competitively without a brace does not flex it? And who is to call him if he does? If it is the umpires, we have to trust their judgment.

    On this point, I think, Bedi is being dogmatic. He (and others) have often asked the rhetorical question, how can any one turn the wrist for the doosra the way Murali does, without bending and straightening the his arm. Well, by bowling in a brace, Murali is trying to answer that question. He?s showing us that it is anatomically possible (for him, at least) to do it. And since so many of us have asked that question, we are bound to attend to his demonstration.

    This still does not rule out the possibility that in the heat of battle Murali may consciously or unaware, flex his arm to really rip the doosra. Bedi has made a serious point about the supervision of the game in general, not just the matter of policing Murali which the ICC needs to take seriously. Murali isn?t responsible for his imitators, but the ICC?s rulings change cricket from the highest level to the lowest, and I?ve seen children in neighbourhood parks manage very creditable imitations of Murali?s bowling style, happily bending and straightening their arms because they know its allowed on television. When Bedi says the ICC has created a monster, he doesn?t mean that Murali has horns: he?s being metaphorical.

    But Bedi doesn?t seem to realize that what really annoys Murali?s fans and supporters is the implication that the ICC introduced the 15 degree rule to fit Murali in. The truth is that to start with the ICC introduced differential limits of flexion (5 degrees for spinners, 7.5 degrees for medium pacers, 10 degrees for fast bowlers) and when the unfairness and impracticality of this was pointed out, abandoned this plan. The fifteen degree rule happened after a study of the actions of international bowlers revealed that nearly every bowler bent and straightened his arm, including fast-bowling paragons like Glenn McGrath. Critics of Murali like Holding did an about-face when shown the evidence and by and large, the cricket world followed suit.

    I asked Bedi what he thought of the finding that nearly everyone chucked, including bowlers who had never come close to being called like McGrath and Gillespie. Bedi dismissed the point. McGrath?s bowling action, he asserted, was pure (his word) and the only way you could judge the legality of a bowler?s delivery was relying on the human eye. McGrath looked legal, so he was legal.

    Oddly enough, this is very close to the position the ICC took when it introduced the fifteen degree law. The ICC?s justification for flexion up to fifteen degrees is the argument that till that point (15 degrees), the human eye can?t see the bending and straightening that occurs. It?s only the modern camera that can catch that kink in a bowler?s action. The ICC is looking for historical continuity: it is implying that the 15 degree rule isn?t sanctioning a new era of chuckers: it is merely formalising a ?flexion? that always existed in international cricket but which couldn?t be discerned or measured because we didn?t have modern cameras and the apparatus of sports science.

    Not unnaturally, Bedi isn?t keen to buy this argument. Bedi, by near-universal agreement, had one of the loveliest slow bowling actions in the history of the game and he refuses to accept that he and his spinning contemporary were actually chuckers but didn?t know it. He didn?t turn the ball much and a bit of ?flexion? might have helped him turn it more, but that didn?t fall within his understanding of the dharma of a bowler (as it was then defined) and he thinks that the ICC?s present permissiveness has slighted cricket?s entire history and the first principles of his craft.

    It doesn?t help that the ICC?s rationalisation of the 15 degree rule doesn?t seem to work in real life. I think I can see the kink in Brett Lee?s action, and Harbhajan?s and Shoaib Akhtar?s. So do many other people. Either they?re bending and straightening their arms more than the allowed fifteen degrees and getting away with it or flexion below that fifteen degree ceiling is also visible, which makes a nonsense of the ICC?s rationale for that number. If it?s the latter, then it means that bowlers are getting away with more today than they were getting away with in the past.

    Instead of going after Murali as the symbol of modern cricketing decadence, Bedi should be asking the ICC to publish the results of the survey of bowling actions that it undertook, complete with names and degrees of flexion. If it?s technically possible, the sports science boffins should look at older films, say Bedi?s bowling action, and tell us what degree of flexion they found. Once we have numbers on which bowler flexed his arm and by how much, we?ll be in a position to judge whether ICC should bend the rules (as it has done) to fit bowling ?reality? or whether bowlers will have to adapt their actions to fit a enforceable ideal. If, for example, a bowler like Jimmy Anderson is found to have flexed his arm appreciably less than, say, Brett Lee, then the ICC needs to lower its level of tolerance to Anderson?s level and force Lee to make changes in his action to conform. Similarly, if to bowl his doosra (or his pehla for that matter) Murali has to flex his arm more than, say, Ramesh Powar, the rules of the game should force him to alter his action. It?s worth remembering that this is exactly what Tony Lock had to do. An attacking left arm spinner, he changed his action in the mid-Fifties after he was called for bowling his faster ball and was never quite the same bowler again.

    On the other hand, if the ICC conducts a systematic study of bowling actions past and present and publishes its results, and if these results validate Lee?s action and Muralitharan?s (to name two bowlers, one fast and one slow, whose bowling actions have caused comment) by showing that bowling actions were always thus and it is only modern cameras that highlight kinks which had hitherto blushed unseen, then the ICC could specify a historically consistent level of flexion and dissenters like Bedi and Crowe would have to fall in line or run the risk of being seen as cricket?s cranks, not its conscience-keepers.

    Till this happens, we?ll continue to be treated to the depressing spectacle of a magical bowler being singled out and hounded for a system-wide problem. And now, thanks to Muralitharan?s lawyers, we are faced with the squalid prospect of the greatest slow left arm bowler of our times, being sued for speaking his mind (even if we allow that he tends to call a spade a shovel). Muralitharan?s claim to being considered the greatest bowler of all time won?t be settled by a defamation suit. His place in cricket?s history, and cricket?s historical integrity, needs the intervention of the ICC.