Saturday, 12 July 2014


Bowling is a pretty weird thing to do. To anyone who is not into cricket it must look perverse. What a strange idea, to throw a ball without bending your elbow.

I watch cricket for the art of the game, technique, the grace, the individuality of players, each unique in their shape and form, a litany of means to the same end.

I love watching batsmen. As I have said before, it is poetry writ in physics. Bowlers? Meh. It looks a bit weird.

I still enjoy the diversity, the singularity of anyone's action, but there are few actions that are poetic to me. I like the loop and flow of the shapes the body-in-motion makes for bowlers like Anderson or Dale Steyn. I like the bull-charge head-down aggression of a real workhorse like Peter Siddle, or Merv Hughes. But most bowlers just look like they are doing something incredibly unnatural, awkwardly and painfully.

Sucks for me, cause the only aspect of cricket I was ever even momentarily good at was bowling quick. Apparently I had a very singular action. Wrong foot and no jump. I am told (I have never seen it) I used to run straight through the crease with a double-windmill arm action. “I've never seen anyone else do it like that,” my Dad told me.

But I hated bowling. I loved batting, I wanted to be a batsman. Or failing that, watch a batsman. Indeed I enjoyed batting so much that I would occasionally bowl half volleys just to watch a really good batsmen play really good shots. Not a recipe for success. I was also lazy of course, and bowling is hard work.

The windmill I reckon came from being hyper-conscious of the straight-arm thing. I was raised by very conservative old-school Aussie cricketers. Bowling was as much about not chucking the thing as it was about getting it to the other end.

Now chucking is OK. Well, to a fifteen degree flex in the elbow it's OK.

Do you know, I would be totally fine with them just allowing flex, as far as you want, however you want. Just chuck the thing. Bowling is weird anyway.

It would change the game, of course. Everyone would chuck it. No exaggeration there, literally everyone would chuck it. You can bowl faster. You can get more bounce. You could hit the seam more consistently. You could get some wicked turn on the ball. Even swing bowlers would work out how to swing it more consistently if they were throwing it instead of doing the run-in, load-up, whirl-your-arms-about thing.

It wouldn't turn into baseball though, because you would be a fool not to throw it into the ground and take advantage of bounce and movement. Baseball pitchers would do that if they were allowed to.

Batting would get harder, and some batsmen who are quite good under the bowling rule just would not ever get it, their rhythms wouldn't adjust to the new rhythms of a chucked ball.

But some batsmen, most good batsmen, would adjust to it. And hell, they've got massive new bats, short boundaries, hard grounds with short grass, flat decks, they're wearing pads and helmets, they would still be protected by all sorts of arcane laws (lbw), and they would still get the benefit of the doubt if they just look sulky enough at the right moment.

If Shane Shillingford and Kane Williamson, and even Saeed Ajmal and Murali have proven one thing, its that they are still playable, at least as much as any top-line no-flex bowler.

Even the chuckers need extraordinary skill to defeat a top batsman. Letting them do it might just bring back some of the balance.

I'm just throwing it out there.

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