Johan Botha Debate, Take 2

I don’t want to belabor this to death, but Kridaya has a great reply to my last post on Johan Botha’s action. There are good points in there, some of which are rather persuasive. For instance:

DB, for some reason, suggests that a bowler would not consciously throw the ball if a chucking allegation could end their careers. Excuse me, but I think that is pretty naive. That would imply that no cheating ever takes place in sports. Cricket had its match fixing scandals. Almost every sport has had doping scandals. I am sure that there are sportspersons who stay clean to avoid getting into trouble, but there will always be people who want to gain any slight advantage they can, even if it means bending or breaking laws.

Fair enough. But there are other points I still do not understand. Take this: 

So let me explain why we should care about bending the arms within the permissible limit. First, the assumption is that throwing brings some advantage to the bowler. If it didn’t, there is no point in discussing any of this because who cares if the bowler throws or bowls if spin “chiefly depends on wrist and finger movement“?

Again, the ICC has found virtually all bowlers bend their arms within the permissable limit. For almost all of them — again, Sarwan excluded — the bending cannot be avoided. I hate to destroy a cricket myth here, but no less a former skeptic than Michael Holding, whose own action was flowing and smooth, was convinced of the science. Bending the arms within the limit is inevitable, and — what’s worse — it cannot be seen (which makes this entire debate moot). 

Secondly, as Kridaya notes, the limit of 15 degrees was chosen because scientists determined that was what could clearly be seen by the naked eye. When umpires suspect something’s strange from what they see, they then report it to the ICC, which, as an extra check on the umpire, hires scientists to further look into the subject.

Kridaya’s problem is a very good one, though. He argues that if an umpire reports someone who is then cleared by scientists even though the action still looks fishy, then what is to be done? Do we just accept the scientists’ verdict?

Well, yes. In Botha’s case, umpires were clearly not satisfied and have reported him again. The system is working. So what’s the problem? Call it if you think it’s strange, then wait for the appropriate authorities to make a definitive ruling. Do it again and again, if you have to — as has happened with Botha — but at some point, you will have to accept what the scientists say, right?

2 thoughts on “Johan Botha Debate, Take 2

  1. Krishna says:

    Good points. I was reading one of your other posts about commentators talking about Murali and I found much to agree upon there. The general mass of fans do not understand the nuances of the chucking issue and could be turned off by these constant allegations and talk.

    In a way, this is similar to Duckworth-Lewis, which is too complicated for the average person to understand. But because commentators have accepted it and do not insinuate that there is an issue, even when DL targets seem weird, DL has been accepted as a fundamental part of limited overs cricket. I think the ICC needs to do the same for the throwing controversy.

    Thanks for the discussion. It was very informative. And I enjoy reading your blog.

  2. […] a comment » I’ve picked fights with nearly every blogger out there of late, so I’m going to continue the trend and […]

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