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Readers sound off on: Rajesh Chauhan

The Rajesh Chauhan controversy
Kumara Dharmasena

From: Elango <>

Dropping Rajesh Chauhan shows the pussy-footed attitude of the BCCI, and is yet another reason for calling for their mass sacking. I would like to congratulate you for a series of terrific articles -- keep it up.

From: Padmini <>

Very well written. If only these points were explained by the esteemed officials. We have demostrated out inefficiency at the international level thru Mr. Dalmiya. Why doesn't he enter active national politics, for which he seems suited?
Also, I think Mr. Simpson's appeal against Chauhan is really strange. I wonder if it has something to do with the upcoming Australian tour? They are never comfortable playing good off-spin. By the time Chauhan has "corrected" his action their tour would be over. Am I right?

From: Srikanth Nathella <>

Its interesting that the ICC has brought up the Rajesh Chauhan issue at this point. I was watching the Sharjah Champions' Trophy recently, and me and some of my pals sat down a couple of weeks ago and looked at his action. Objectively speaking, his action was suspect on some balls (not all of them), but not clearly a throw either. Rajesh somehow has struck a grey area between a chuck and a bowl.
This is how we see it: on these questionable balls, Rajesh's arm partially seems to straighten out at the point of delivery. But, interestingly he does use his wrist at that point to tweak the ball. Therefore, analytically speaking, relative to the ICC law on throw, it does not constitute a throw, because the law clearlystates that the use of wrist is not precluded in the bowling process, and hence if straightening of the arm is attributable to use of wrist, then it is a legal ball. If this is how you all see it too, do you think the BCCI should use such discussion process with the ICC?

Prem Panicker replies: This is pretty much the same argument that both Gavaskar and Kapil Dev have advanced -- that after extensive viewing of videos and of watching Chauhan bowl, live, neither of them are able to point to any delivery and say with any certainity that it is a chuck. It is also why a substantial segment of the media, not to mention almost every single past player, has been calling for Chauhan's reinstatement -- you cannot ban a player on suspicion, you need to be able to prove your case and thus far, no one including the ICC, despite all the sophisticated camerawork of TWI and other agencies, have been able to produce any constructive proof. Besides, even the ICC is not saying he chucks consistently -- therefore, the answer is to call a suspect delivery, not ask the concerned board to drop the bowler altogether.

From: Amir Hussain <>

Prem, you have mentioned many times in various articles that the umpires are the ones who should be keeping an eye on the bowler. Isn't that a bit harsh on the umpires? As it is, they keep count of deliveries, they keep count of overs/bowler (ODIs only), they keep an eye on the batsmen, they keep an eye on the bowler's foot (re: no balls), on the follow through...
To this, you want to add that they should keep an eye on every bowler's hand/wrist so that he does not throw.
Given that fast, and some spin, bowlers bowl with a fast arm action, how can an umpire be expected to do all of above and keep an eye on the bowlers wrist at the same time?? Surely, you need some third eye, maybe the 3rd umpire should examine each delivery after bowling!!
I am not sure what other options ICC had in the matter of Chauhan and whether Sri Lanka should be condoned or condemned for their defiance - after all they are members of ICC and must follow the rules.

Prem Panicker replies: Amir, I must point out here that 'I' am not the one who defined the list of duties of the umpire -- the ICC did that. And in that list, monitoring a bowler's action is one of them. In fact, the law clearly leaves it to the umpires to call the bowler for infringement of the concerned law. This duty has been performed by umpires down the years, when did it become suddenly too much for them? Even assuming it is, then that is an issue for the ICC to address, to amend the law and give that power to the third umpire or whoever. For now, the umpires are -- as per the ICC -- the competent authority, so the argument remains, what is the match referee's locus standi here?

From: Neeran M Karnik <>

Since you've been battering away at the ICC, BCCI, and god knows who else for a couple of days now, I felt impelled to respond. You say:
What the Lankan board is doing, effectively, is telling the ICC it has no business meddling in team selection; that it is the umpires, and not some hastily comprised "throwing committee" that should be adjudicating on such matters.
When allegations were made earlier against Chauhan, and then Murali was called, *lots* of people were of the opinion that the ICC should in fact settle the matter, and not leave it to the umpires! (I'll try and justify this a little further ahead) The ICC was accused of being spineless, powerless, etc because they didn't react to the Murali incident. That's why this committee was put together. Oh, and another thing:
For reference, the members of this committee are as follows: Brian Basson (South Africa), Javed Burki (Pakistan), Doug Insole and Nigel Plews (England), Michael Holding (West Indies), John Reid (New Zealand), Kapil Dev (India), Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka) and Bob Simpson (Australia). [...] Strange. I don't see the name of a single umpire in that list!
Well, I do. It would help to do a little bit of research before making such statements.
What qualification do the members of the "throwing committee" have? You tell me.
How about the fact that most of them are experienced Test cricketers? Why do they all have to be umpires to rule on throwing? All they need to understand is the relevant portion of Law 24, and if necessary get clarifications from qualified umpires. Maybe that's why Nigel Plews was put in there?

Prem Panicker replies: Since this is a very long one, Neeran, I think I will answer it in parts. First up, I would rather write about positive things, rather than depress myself every single day with the latest shenanigans on offer -- so that bit about my "battering away", believe me, is not out of choice, but compulsion. I am not sure if you are responding on behalf of the ICC, which is suggested by the wording of the opening line, but I will respond anyway.
Your central question, in there, seems to be, why do umpires have to rule on throwing. I don't know -- you tell me. I didn't frame the rule which says the umpire has to call for chucking, the ICC did. The very same law you cited above -- the "umpire shall call...", it says.
Iinteresting that the Test cricket qualifications of the panel members is being mentioned by you. Last I checked, Kapil Dev (and Sunil Gavaskar, who with Dev examined the first video from the ICC, and then had Chauhan bowl before them live) have played a bit of Test cricket too, and are about as well qualified as any of the others. Or am I missing something here? Kapil, further, is part of the selfsame committee, and openly says that its latest action is wrong. Does all this count?
No one is saying that Chauhan should be played even if he chucks -- all that is being asked is, that a player be condemned on the basis of concrete evidence. To expand that point further -- the only tapes the ICC have shown thus far, in support of the original allegation, were the ones reviewed by Gavaskar and Kapil, and deemed inadequate. Does this new development mean that those two players are being held to lie, or to lack integrity, or what? Okay, there are new tapes -- wouldn't a better policy, a more humane one, have been to permit a review of the tapes by any competent authority set up by the BCCI, before deciding on the course of action? The crux here is, how does the ICC dictate that a certain player should not be picked?

You say: "The concerned law very clearly states that either umpire on duty should call any ball delivered with an action that infringes the rules --- it does not say the umpires shall report the concerned bowler to the match referee.
Why is this important? Simple. If a batsman is dismissed off a no-ball, is he out? No -- because a no-ball infringes one of the rules govering the delivery of the ball. Similarly, if a bowler chucks, and a batsman gets out to that ball, he is actually not out."

It is a historical fact that lots and lots of bowlers have chucked (at least the occasional ball) and NOT been called by the umpires. You are being naive if you equate a throwing-call with any other type of no-ball/wide-ball. A throwing call almost invariably ends the bowler's playing career. And these days, they're all professionals and stand to lose a lot of money too.
So, ask any umpire, especially at international level, and they'll tell you they are reluctant to call for throwing. These days, they have the much better option of reporting to the ICC/Match ref, and asking the ICC to take the matter up privately with the concerned player & Board. Yes the Laws do call for the umpires to call "no-ball", but common sense dictates a more discreet action. In some cases, it's worked -- witness the disappearance of Warnaweera when he was reported similarly.
Prem Panicker: Oh? "Lots and lots of bowlers" chuck, do they? Then why, among this entire plethora of illegal ball merchants, has the ICC honed in on just Dharmasena, Chauhan, Silva and Muralitharan?
I did see, in one report, a passing, throwaway mention that 12 bowlers 'may have been' scrutinised -- so who are the other eight? Or are the three Lankans and one Indian the only ones with names? You will answer, the other bowlers have been exonerated, so why name them. By that logic, so were Murali and Jayanta Silva exonerated, so why were their names taken? Again, does this mean Chauhan and Dharmasena have been found guilty? Is that the final verdict?
A throwing call invariably ends a bowler's career? Think again -- the last one to be called was Murali, and he is still going strong. A better way to put it would be, a correct call for throwing could blight a career -- but here, the bowler has not even been called in all this time, yet his career is messed with regardless.
By your own logic, if the ICC has appointed this committee to clean up this game, wouldn't the better thing to have done be to examine all actions of contemporary bowlers, and discreetly indicate to the respective boards which ones the ICC believes is problematical, so that the bowlers concerned can rectify them? Just what process was used to pick these four out of the hat?
As to the reluctance of umpires -- really? Darrell Hair calling Muralitharan for throwing, even after being specifically told he was going to bowl leg breaks, is I presume the latest evidence of that reluctance?
You say, too, that commonsense dictates a more discreet action. Is that why Rajesh Chauhan first learnt of the ICC's suspicions because Simpson talked to a London-based newspaper, which a friend in India happened to read and subsequently called up Chauhan to relay the good news? Why David Richards informed the global media that the ICC has advised remedial action for Chauhan and Dharmasena? Like, none of this could have been done outside the glare of publicity, if that is what the ICC was after?
I find it interesting, too, that you mention that a throwing call can end a bowler's career. Isn't that the very reason why it makes sense to proceed very, very carefully with something like this? Tapes were taken in November, examined, and the verdict given -- all in just under a month. Such haste, and a concern for the longevity of a player -- do they really go together, you think? And is it just a call that can end the bowler's career, not an ICC diktat?

Secondly, in yesterday's article, you asked:
"Is there one single instance in the history of cricket that the ICC can cite, of action taken against an umpire who called a bowler for chucking? No. Then on what does the ICC base its argument that umpires are not calling bowlers because they are scared?"
They may not be scared, just discreet and showing some compassion for the player in not embarassing him in front of the world! And further, you also provided a reason why the umpires *should* be scared:

Prem Panicker replies: As I pointed out just now, where lies the discretion exercised? Had Chauhan been called, would he have been any more embarassed than he is today? Give him a call, my friend. You know what he says, today? "Will someone please tell me exactly where the problem is and what I am doing wrong? I went through one year of mental torture, felt the pressure even after coming back, I was just getting my confidence back and now I am condemned again, and no one has still explained to me just what the problem with my delivery is!" His own words, speaking on the phone. Does this indicate to you why some of us, at least, are making an issue of this?
Discretion? Compassion? A desire to spare him global embarassment? Tell me another one -- the news appears in international newspapers before the Indian board, or the media, even gets to hear of it!
I don't see a single sign of any of these high-minded values in the way this issue has been handled thus far, do you?

You write: "The (SL) board then, without waiting for the ICC's reaction, went ahead and picked Muralitharan to play in the 1996 World Cup, of all places, openly declaring that if any umpire called him, the video of the delivery would be closely scrutinised and, if need be, the board would initiate legal action against the umpire concerned, and against the ICC."

Which umpire would want to risk getting sued, risk his livelihood, and fly in the face of precedent by calling someone for chucking? So, your argument about Chauhan's having bowled in front of a dozen top umpires doesn't matter -- they may have had their doubts about his action even if they didn't call him. And we now know that three of them did report him to the match ref.

Prem Panicker: Oh I see. "Fly in the face of precedent", did you say? Let me ask you a counter-question. Darrell Hair called Muralitharan, right? Right. As a result, Murali's performance in that game and the rest of the series was effected, and Sri Lanka deprived of the services of their premier bowler in the middle of a tough tour? Right? And now the ICC says there is nothing at all wrong with Murali's action -- so now tell me this, what action was taken against Hair for a blatantly unfair call? Was the umpire penalised for his gross mistake? Sued? Was his livelihood curtailed? Just what is this precedent which, you say, is scaring all those umpires witless? The real precedent here is that no matter what umpires do, no action is ever taken against them -- that kind of precedent should encourage, not discourage, you, I would think.
In all this concern for umpires, I wonder -- Is any reparation possible for the embarassment caused to Murali then, or to the Sri Lankan side?
While on the subject of umpires, no one said the job of an international umpire is a sinecure -- every single decision they make affects the course of a game, every decision is minutely analysed with the help of instant replays, sure they are under the microscope all the time. Is that a good reason to shirk one of their responsibilities? They seem to have no fear when making wrong decisions in other ways, is this the only one they are scared of making?

Finally, your outrage (and Kapil's, it would seem) at the ICC for "demanding" the omission of Chauhan (and Dharma) is not justified either. The ICC's letter (signed by David Richards), quoted in your own article, very clearly ends with:
"In the meantime, his continued selection in international cricket runs the risk of him being no-balled for throwing. The panel would prefer that he not be selected until remedial work has been successfully completed, but acknowledge that selection is a matter for your Board to decide."
If Jaggu dada goes and twists this into a demand for dropping Chauhan et al, then go ahead and blast Jaggu by all means. He has no business saying so, but the official correspondence from the ICC is blameless in this regard.
Prem Panicker replies: Well, frankly, I am rather startled, and considerably honoured, to be clubbed in the same category as Kapil Dev -- even if it is in the wrong!
Right, Jagmohan Dalmiya doesn't have any business saying what he said, we are both agreed about that. Meanwhile, what does David Richards say? In effect, this -- 'Sure, go ahead and pick Chauhan, but he will be called'. Or do the phrases "continued selection in international cricket runs the risk of him being no-balled for throwing" and "the panel would prefer that he not be selected", mean something to you that escapes me?
I have encountered enough instances in my working life when my boss has said, 'Sorry to bother you, Prem, but could you please get this done before you go home, if it is not inconvenient?' I was never naive enough to believe that my boss meant what he said, and since it genuinely was inconvenient, I could just go home anyway -- no sir, I sat back, gritted my teeth and got the darned thing done. Because when a person, or body in authority, "suggests" something, the "or else" is very implicit. Or am I, again, being rather naive here?

If the SL Board cocks a snook at the ICC and selects Dharmasena, it's not because they're being brave, but because they have a strong persecution complex.

Prem Panicker: Really? Two instances from recent history. At the start of their tour of Australia, the umpires examine the ball used and then make statements tampered with it. The statements are front-paged. The ICC subsequently acquits them, and says the ball used was defective, and that the incident was no fault of the Sri Lankans. This, of course, hardly merits a passing mention. Game two, Muralitharan is no balled. Repeatedly. Even when bowling leg breaks. Again, the ICC completely exonerates the bowler concerned.This has been their recent experience -- if they have a complex, to what would you trace it, given this background? Or are these instances mere figments of the collective Lankan imagination?
By the way, in my last piece, I also mentioned something else -- the ICC code of conduct, and two (in fact, there have been several, but we will stick with just two for now) glaring instances, in recent memory, when they have been flouted blatantly, first by Allan Donald, then more recently by Pramodaya Wickremasinghe, without any action being taken, without the offender even being summoned for a word of caution, whereas a more minor infringement by Ganguly and Karim resulted in a record fine and public reprimand. If, based on this and other incidents, I were to say that under the ICC's eye, all nations are equal but some are more equal than others, am I as an Indian reporter suffering from a persecution complex too?

I'm glad our Board went by the ICC recommendation and did not select Chauhan. Since Venkat, VK Ramaswamy etc. have already complained about his action, they would now be obliged to call him if he was bowling and they were standing. I would hate to see Chauhan's career end that way. Now, at least he has the option of working on his action at the ICC/BCCI's expense, and retiring if things don't work out. By the way, I have myself seen a club cricketer's career end in a series of throwing calls, and even at our lowly level of cricket, the incident was shattering to him. I can't imagine how bad it must be at Test level, with millions watching.

Prem Panicker: First, there is only Jagmohan Dalmiya's word for it that Venkat et al complained. As to V K Ramaswamy -- why would he complain, when he has never stood in a game, on this tour, wherein Chauhan actually bowled? If I remember, VKR stood in game two -- and the Lankan innings there was rained out.
I did argue this point earlier. To reiterate -- the ICC hasn't left Chauhan a shred of clothing to cover himself with, have they? What has happened now is hardly less shattering than being called. And the way the news has been broken to the guy only makes it all worse. Or again, am I missing something here?
Further -- is it anybody's contention that he chucks every ball? Hopefully not. So which, according to you, is worse -- that Chauhan, as it stands, has been branded a chronic chucker who needs 'treatment' to work out his action, which is what the ICC has accomplished now; or Chauhan being called if, and when, a particular delivery was chucked? In other words, would you rather you were penalised for bowling a rare illegal ball, or would you rather be labelled an "illegal bowler" for life? The ICC suggests his bowling is illegal, bang goes a year and a bit of his playing career. Then he comes back, battles his own personal demons, starts doing very well, and lo, comes the encore. Bang, goes more of his playing life. This strikes you as the most fair, just way of proceeding in this case?
Sorry, I must disagree. Rather strongly. And stand by what I wrote initially.

From: Jay Jayaraman <>

I came to the US many years ago, but have followed cricket very closely. My travels take me to India several times a year and I have been fortunate to be able to maintain my links and passion for the game through all the trials and tribulations of Indian cricket.
I am shocked and dismayed at the complete spinelessness of the Indian selectors in dropping Chauhan. The Sri Lankans on the other hand have demonstrated that they will stand by their man in both good and bad times. The lack of accountability of the selectors and the shortcomings of the Indian judicial system leave Mr. Chauhan high and dry. A great season, a clean bill of health from Gavaskar and Kapil Dev and the ability to fight back against all odds are obviously worthless when confronted by the insanity of the fair weather friends we call selectors.
My disappointment and disillusionment are now total. I do not feel like watching Indian cricket or even reading news about it. Making Azhar captain and dropping Dravid are simply two more examples of the power of special interest groups in the selection process. When will Indian cricket officials support our own players instead of kicking them in the ribs when they are down? When will national pride take precendence over regional interests? When will the selectors and players play as members of the same team rather than as opponents?
This letter comes from a frustrated, disgusted, sad Indian cricket fan.

From: Manoj Sridhar <>

I read your article about the Sri Lankan selectors "ignoring" the warnings by the ICC. It is a very good point that you bring up about the "different" roles of the Umpires and the Refree. I want to congratulate you on an extremely well written article about the whole situation.

From: Satya Podury <>

I can very much empathize with the frustration of the writer of this article. However, we Indians are afflicted with a very severe case of cowardice. I guess the British have left, but they have made sure that Indians can never develop a spine. Why isn't Chauhan suing the BCCI, ICC, Bobby Simpson, the whole bunch of them?? Why is Bobby Simpson, the man who seems to have caused all this ruckus, being appointed as a consultant to the Indian cricket team -- at a presumably exorbitant salary, to boot? What is the team doing about this? Any protests? Yep, there is no pride. No guts, no glory, as they say.

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