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Why Murali's doosra is fine

By Mr. Zooter
June 18 2004

Muthiah Muralitharan, the greatest bowler in the history of Test cricket, has declined to visit Australia with his team after rhetoric from several people there including PM Howard. This article asks those who don't support Murali to ask themselves: just why is the doosra illegal? Murali's Doosra is "illegal" because the ICC says that spinners are only allowed to bend their elbow by 5 degrees. Pacers are allowed to bend 10 degrees. Why the disparity you ask -- no one knows because the ICC didn't arrive at those numbers scientifically!!! The honest truth. They have never given a justification!

Murali does not bend (and then extend) his arm by more than 5 degrees for any of his deliveries except for his doosra. His doosra is only nominally beyond the 10 degree limit. If the ICC would invent fair rules, then Murali would do his best, believe me, to go down to 10 degrees from wherever he's at now--10.2, 10.5 whatever.

This is why Murali's doosra is illegal -- because of the ICC's unfair rules. Got it everyone? It's like saying: it is legal to rob a bank, but not rob someone's home. If Shoaib, Lee, and all the other pacers who bend, bend, bend away (and wear those stupid flabby long sleeves to try to hide their bent arms) were to rob a bank, and Murali robbed someone's house--would you say Murali's action is illegal, but everyone else's is fair?

No you wouldn't. You would say: either keep it all fair, or all unfair. Don't be selective! This one's for the purists who say all bowling actions should have a straight arm. If so, then stop picking on Murali only -- blame every bowler because they all cheat.

For those who say, Murali breaks the ICC rules -- ask yourself, are the rules based scientifically and are they fair: NO AND NO.

Murali AIN'T NO CHEAT. Nor is he a wimp. He is attacked like an animal when he goes to Oz-land. A huge pat on the back from me to Murali for giving the Baggy Greens a middle finger.

The 5 and 10 degree rule

The "5 and 10 degree rule" was made a posteriori to data collected concerning the prevailing bowling actions of all bowlers at the international level. It was found that over the years, ALL BOWLERS, EVERYWHERE (kids, young adults, professionals) were bending their arm and extending ever so slightly.

The pacers were found to be bending and extending more than the spinners...why? Because they need the bend for raw speed. The spinners were not bending their arms as much because they don't need extreme pace! The ability to spin the ball does not depend on how much you bend your arm! The one and only exception to this is Murali's doosra (I'll explain why in a minute). This is why pacers would go as far as a 10 degree bend and spinners would only need to go to 5 degrees--the disparity in bend allows for advantages for each type of bowler respectively.

This is why the ICC settled on 5 and 10 -- it was the culture, not science!

Murali changed all that because he needed at least a 10 degree bend (and then extension) where no other bowler did, in order to gain access to bowl the doosra. It is humanly impossible to point your palm skywards and bowl the doosra without bending your arm by more than 5 degrees.

So the question is: If all the pacers can bend up to 10 degrees to throw the ball (its not a bowl), why can't Murali bend 10 degrees to gain access (physiologically) for his doosra?

The only fair answer is: there is no good reason--scientific or otherwise. If Akhtar goes up to 10 for speed, let Murali go up to 10 for delicate access for spin. Now that's fair.

Here is a quote from the actual report from the Univ. of Western Aus:

"A case may be made for Mr Muralitharan's initial elbow extension to be acceptable at 14 degrees...For this reason a period of technique modification was carried out to reduce the level of elbow movement during the delivery of his doosra. Following this remediation his level of elbow extension reduced to 10 degrees, which is within fast bowling guidelines."

Murali was at 15 (in the past). He now hovers right around 10. More from the report:

"We contend that because the speed of his upper arm rotation is as fast and in some cases quicker than fast bowlers, his level of acceptability for elbow extension should also be set at the 10 degree mark. With no spin bowling data base to make a comparison, this would seem both a wise and prudent recommendation."

The purists are going to have a heart attack, but the report continues:

"Following the findings from Portus et al (2003) we would also recommend that the ICC consider increasing the fast bowling extension threshold to 15 degrees."

And the overall conclusion from the scientists:

"Finally it is our considered opinion that Mr Muralitharan be permitted to continue bowling his "doosra" at least until a valid database is collected on the various spin bowling disciplines. The relatively minor level of elbow extension following remediation over the period from arm horizontal to release is not believed to give Mr Muralitharan an unfair advantage over batsmen or other bowlers."

Ian Chappell has said that yes, Murali chucks according to the "stupid ICC Law." Yes, he called it stupid. He also added that if you are critical of Muralitharan for an arm that goes 'bent to straight', then you have to apply the same principle throughout and that means virtually every bowler is in some doubt.

Going from history and science, as per the UWA report, the ICC MUST change their rules. But the hapless twits don't. The PM chimes in, Lillee chimes in, Warne chimes in, the audience will chime in (putting it lightly) and Murali just keeps smiling. Not because he's an evil genius. But because that's his nature. He's not a hothead.

He peacefully decided not to go to Australia. Now, that's the exact opposite of what the bullies are making it out to be: confidence, not fear. But that's what bullies do: they bully, and they insult, and they try to scare those people they think are small, weak, and apparently, smile a lot.

When the "picked on" fight back, the bullies do what they always do: whine and complain. It's textbook!

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