With the Cricket World Cup starting on 14 February 2015 in
Australia and New Zealand, there are numerous bowlers who have been
selected by their countries to represent them, who will be under
the watchful eye of the umpires for the legality of their bowling
According to the laws of cricket, the definition of a 'fair
delivery in respect of the arm' is that the ball must not be
thrown. Furthermore the ball is fairly delivered in respect of the
arm if, once the bowlers arm has reached the level of the shoulder
in the delivery swing, the elbow joint shall not straighten
partially or completely from that point until the ball has left the
The International Cricket Council (ICC) Regulations state that
an acceptable level of elbow extension has been set at a maximum of
15 degrees for all bowlers and types of deliveries. This refers to
the extension of the forearm relative to the upper arm to the
This topic has been widely debated ever since Muttiah
Muralitharan was reported, and no balled by umpire Darrell Hair in
the Boxing Day Test at the MCG in 1995. Ever since then, the
legality of bowling actions have been the subject of much
It will be interesting to see how the umpires at the ICC World
Cup adjudicate on these bowling actions with there being at least 6
players picked who have been sanctioned for illegal bowling action
in the past 12 months.
Two of the most prevalent of these will be Sunil Narine, the
off-spinner for the West Indies, and also Mohammad Hafeez, the
all-rounder for Pakistan.
Sunil Narine was banned from bowling in the Champions League
Twenty20 competition which is governed by the Board of Control for
Cricket in India (BCCI), as such his ban only related to events run
by the BCCI. Accordingly, he has not been tested nor banned by an
ICC sanctioned game, and his action will no doubt be scrutinised in
the World Cup.
Mohammad Hafeez was banned in a Test match late in 2014, and has
not yet had his action tested by an ICC governed testing centre. At
this stage he has not be cleared to bowl. However, if he is cleared
he will also be heavily scrutinised in the World Cup.
It is one of the many interesting aspects of the ICC World Cup,
which will give all adjudicating umpires food for thought.
In the writer's view, the 15-degree maximum should be that;
a maximum. There will always be exceptions for hyperextended
elbows; but as the laws of cricket state, a fair delivery is a ball
that is not thrown. In the writers view that is as clear as it can
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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