7/19/10

Even as Sri Lanka pulled out all the stops to orchestrate a grand farewell for national hero Muttiah Muralitharan on Sunday, former India skipper and legendary spinner Bishan Singh Bedi raised a lone voice of dissent, lashing out at the International Cricket Council (ICC) for refusing to wake up to the menace of suspect actions.

Bedi, for long stridently opposed to any leniency in norms for bowlers with unorthodox arm and elbow positions, paid tribute to Muralitharan's persistence and personality but questioned the legitimacy of his records, calling for the ICC to ban the doosra in the aftermath of the retirement.

"Murali is a wonderful personality, a thinking cricketer and a crafty bowler but he leaves behind a legacy of chucking," said Bedi. "It is high time the ICC woke up to the possibility of the Test scene being swamped by finger spinners with illegitimate actions."

Bedi, who has had his run-ins with Murali in the past over this issue, said: "I have nothing against Murali. He is a unique bowler unlikely to be copied. But before him, the idea that one could throw the ball and get away with it never crossed an off-spinner's mind. A ten-wicket haul for a bowler is like a batsman scoring centuries in both innings, while I equate a five-wicket haul in an innings with a century. Murali has 66 five-wicket hauls and 22 ten-wicket hauls in Tests, which is a bit hard to believe and could never have been possible without the ICC's leniency. At the end of the day, it is a stigma for any bowler to be called for chucking.

"I strongly feel the ICC should take action to ban the doosra since it just cannot be bowled legally. Ashley Mallett has said the 'doosra is nothing but chucking' and Australian spinners, including Shane Warne, have raised an alarm against coaching it in Australia. Who remembers Saqlain Mushtaq, the man credited with inventing the doosra?"

Last year, some leading lights of Australian spin including Warne, MacGill, coach Terry Jenner, Gavin Robertson and Mallett said they would refuse to coach the doosra and agreed it could never be a legitimate delivery.

"Comparing Murali with the likes of Jim Laker is preposterous," said Bedi. "The ICC's experiments with leniency in elbow angles and subjecting Murali to bowling with a cast on his arm was a sham. A chucker can be spotted easily without technology as he has minimal follow-through. This is because the elbow, rather than the shoulder, comes into play. The shoulder doesn't follow the ball, hence no follow-through."

Bedi, incidentally, feels England spinner Graeme Swann has the cleanest action among contemporary spinners.