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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

the English view of 'doosra' - some spinners who suffered !!!

Subash Gupte, VV Kumar, BS Chandrasekhar, MV Narasimha Rao, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Narendra Hirwani, Anil Kumble, Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla ……….all leg spinners – who played for India.  Their stock delivery is ‘googly’ a delivery which turns the wrong way but bowled with the same action by the rightarm leg spinner.  The stock delivery of the rare left arm unorthodox spinner is known as ‘Chinaman’; …..   it is ‘doosra’ which is doing rounds ! .

~ the man who had 16 wickets on his debut at Chepauk - photo credit :

In Hindi and Urdu, doosra means "second" or "other" ~ in a simpler comparison - doosra is the off-spinner's version of the googly. Britons are good speakers …. England’s off-spinner James Tredwell is yet to strike it big - but  reserved his most lethal delivery in a media session raising suspicions on the doosra, a delivery pioneered by Paki Saqlain Mushtaq. Now every offie worth his name from the legendary - Muttiah Muralitharan, Ravichandran Ashwin, mystery Ajanta Mendis,Shane Shillingford and  sizzling Sunil Narine, Saeed Ajmal - have it in their arsenal and have their own variety. People have been asking how can a finger spinner impart so much spin and pace to a delivery?

Tredwell’s theory is that it helps to have a little kink, sarcastic referenced to 15 degrees .. a la Muralitharan.  To him  - a close look at the shoulder and elbow at the point of delivery  - with the ICC changing the laws allowing bowlers to straighten their elbow up to 15% in 2004, helped most bowlers flexing their arms to a degree which wasn't visible to the naked eye. Legendary Australian spinners Ashley Mallet and Shane Warne too have voiced their opinion on the legality of the delivery.  Tredwell says that spinner should take wicket with his stock delivery.  He is quoted as saying that he lost the wrist position  and could not manage pace with the carrom ball. 

There have been many victims and the latest to join them is Shane Shillingford who has confirmed that he will no longer bowl the doosra. Therefore, his doosra will remain an illegal delivery and he cannot bowl it in international cricket. West Indies’ Shane Shillingford has been allowed by the ICC to resume bowling in international after undergoing remedial work but the off-spinner has been barred from bowling his ‘doosra’ delivery. Remember that Shillingford was reported at the end of second day’s play in the Mumbai Test against India in November and was tested on November 29 last year at the UWA.

All his delivery types were assessed as illegal and he was suspended from bowling in international cricket, and subsequently underwent remedial work to modify his action. ICC has said that Shillingford’s off-break and arm balls were re-tested at the University of Western Australia (UWA) in Perth on March 4 and the elbow extension measured for each of his deliveries was within the 15-degree level of tolerance permitted under the ICC Regulations for the Review of Bowlers Reported with Suspected Illegal Bowling Actions. “Shillingford has confirmed that he will no longer bowl the doosra. Therefore, his doosra will remain an illegal delivery and he cannot bowl it in international cricket,” an ICC release said. Shillingford’s bowling action will continue to be scrutinised by match officials to ensure it remains legal, according to ICC.

A variety of bowlers have made considerable use of the doosra in international cricket. Other Pakistanis who use it include Shoaib Malik and Saeed Ajmal. Users from other nations include Sri Lankans Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis, Indian Harbhajan Singh and South African Johan Botha.

The naming of the delivery is attributed to Moin Khan, the former Pakistani wicketkeeper, who would call on Mushtaq to bowl the "doosra" (the other one) from behind the stumps. The bowler delivers the ball with the same finger action as a normal off break but cocks the wrist so that the back of the hand faces the batsman. This gives the ball spin in the opposite direction to that for an off break, causing it to spin from the leg side to the off side to a right-handed batsman. Saqlain Mushtaq was successful but some others were reviewed and questioned on the legitimacy of their doosras – they include : Muttiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan Singh, Shoaib Malik, Saeed Ajmal and Johan Botha.

Among them Murali was subjected to most scrutiny and humility …. He underwent biomechanical tests at the University of Western Australia  which revealed that  he was straightening his arm by angles of up to 10 degrees prior to delivering doosras, well outside the International Cricket Council acceptable guideline of 5 degrees for spin bowlers. In November 2004, the International Cricket Council conducted more research into illegal bowling actions and found that many great bowlers like Glenn Mcgrath, Jason Gillespie, Shaun Pollock, whose actions were considered legitimate were actually transgressing the rules. A rule change was proposed and accepted at a meeting of ICC chief executives in early 2005, stating that any bowler may straighten their arm up to 15° (which was earlier 9° forspinner and 12° for seamer) and Muralitharan's doosra became a legal delivery. In February 2006, in an attempt to silence the Australian crowds and their 'no ball' chants, Muralitharan took another test at the University of Western Australia, which saw all of his deliveries deemed legal, including the doosra.

Harbhajan Singh was the subject of an official report by match referee Chris Broad, on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Mark Benson, and TV umpire Mahbubur Rahman after the second Test between India and Bangladesh at Chittagong in December 2004 but was later cleared.  Shoaib Malik was reported at Australia in Dec 2004; so also was Johan Botha in 2006.   

In July 2009 in Australia, a spin summit held at Cricket Australia's Centre for Excellence decided not to teach the doosra to young spinners. In 2004, Saqlain Mushtaq, the developer of the doosra, claimed to have developed a new variant called the Teesra, which is a backspinner disguised as an off spinner.  He was supposed to have used it in ICL matches.

While an illegitimate delivery should not be allowed to be used as a weapon  – England raising such Q and Asian bowlers being called in Australia does raise some Q …. John Lever created a controversy using ‘vaseline’ strips but got away so easy … Pakis bowling reverse swing was questioned ~ whereas there are so many pacers with suspect actions - getting away with chucking, getting wickets and if not, putting doubts in the minds of batsmen with that spurt in pace….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

28th Mar 2014.

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