Category Archives: Cheaters

This Is What A ‘Chuck’ Looks Like

In an earlier post on Saeed Ajmal’s funny arm, Russ (again, of Knotted Paths fame) argued with CRIC-SIS about arm no-balls. This is Russ:

Any bowler that points their elbow down the pitch is going to straighten their arm considerably because of the rotational force on the elbow from the fore-arm at delivery. If you brace the elbow, it won’t bend, and the wrist will be able to do the necessary work. But it proves precisely nothing.

A throw, incidentally, does not gain power from the straightening (try throwing with only an elbow bend – it is called a girly throw for a reason). It gains power from the rotation of the elbow, and the whip of the hand. We ought to no-ball bowlers whose elbows point down the pitch.

I don’t know if this video is proof, since it’s from baseball, but man, I’d really not like to face him at the crease:

UPDATE: I saw this via James Fallows, who wrote about the ‘kinetic chain’ — i.e., the force of a good throw — some years ago. This is what he says a ‘girl’s throw’/’poor male athlete’s throw’ involves:

1) Body directed straight-on toward the target as the throw begins, rather than turned 90 degrees (or more) away;

2) Elbow lower than shoulder as your arm comes forward;

3) Wrist inside elbow (closer to your head) as you release the ball and/or palm facing up, giving a pushing rather than hurling motion. Now you know.

Other than (2), don’t fast bowlers violate these rules? They run straight-on (most do, anyway; no one knows just what Malinga does), and they release the ball palm facing up. Right?

Saeed Ajmal’s Arm Looks Funny

Sorry to link once more to an item from Cric-Sis, but the blogger supremo posted an intriguing photo of Saeed Ajma’s delivery action:

It’s troubling, but I don’t exactly understand the science behind these measurements. Which isn’t to say I don’t believe in the science and think the ICC is peddling a giant conspiracy to defraud the public. (This seems to be the Australian/English position on chucking.) And as bad as Ajmal’s arm may seem, it doesn’t compare to sheer strangeness of Shoaib Akhtar’s arm:

The UDRS Non-Consensus

Unlike Graeme Smith, I don’t have a problem with some Test series including UDRS, and others not. There’s nothing inherently unfair about that, as long as both teams head into a match know the rules and what to expect.

The underlying assumption — much disputed by the BCCI — is that the UDRS guarantees a higher quality of umpiring and cricket. I’m not sure, and Sambit Bal excellently summarizes the points against the current system: 1) HotSpot and Hawk-Eye/Virtual Eye are not fool-proof. 2) The two allotted reviews to each side isn’t ideal and 3) the system is skewed toward batsmen, who really don’t deserve any more help.

Remember these numbers: 89-32. The first is the number of unsuccessful reviews last year. One assumes that another layer of review is an automatic improvement, but that’s not always the case — so relax, and play the fates, as all good cricketers learn to do.

Six Degrees Of Bookie Connections: Suresh Raina Edition

Hanging out with bookies is a definite no-no, I agree. But this sub-head from the Times of India is absolutely hilarious:

ICC is probing why BCCI kept quiet about a report of Suresh Raina being seen in the company of a woman linked to an associate of an illegal bookmaker.

Got that? Raina apparently hung out with someone who was linked to someone who knew an illegal bookie. And the ICC is wondering why the BCCI kept quiet about this. Read the whole story here.

Pakistan Victory Dilemmas

Despite all odds, Pakistan has just won two consecutive ODIs on the trot. Assume, contra Ijaz Butt, these victories were legitimate. Without a doubt, they’ve been absolutely thrilling; there’s little that can compare with winning under floodlights on the back of incisive, late-swing bowling.

But is this what Pakistan needs? Commentators have pushed a storyline that Pakistan — for all its current troubles (match-fixing, floods, forever political turmoil) — needs some good news. I don’t dispute that, but I wonder: will a series victory undermine the case for change?

Like other South Asian teams, Pakistan has set the standard for inconsistency and muddling-through. The worst thing that could happen from the spot-fixing scandal is a repeat of what happened in the late 1990s/early 2000s: rounds of finger-pointing; rumor-mongering; a few life bans — and then nothing more. Systemic change first requires an admission that the status quo has failed, and if Pakistan wins, then where does that leave us?

Let me be clear: I’m loving this series so far. If Pakistan wins, then they do, and good for them. But I fear the consequences. The storyline will shift from, “Dismal Pakistan lose Test, ODI series; Calls for Change increase” to “We’re not so bad, huh?”

Ijaz Butt Peddles His Unconscious

The seriously strange thing about Ijaz Butt’s outburst to Cricinfo — the thing that most captures just how unbelievably unhinged this man may be — comes in this small detail in the story:

In a prepared statement read out to ESPNcricinfo…

“This is not a conspiracy to defraud bookies but a conspiracy to defraud Pakistan and Pakistan cricket,” Butt said. “We have taken it in hand to start our own investigations. We will shortly reveal the names of the people, the parties and the bodies involved in this sinister conspiracy and we also reserve the right to sue them for damages.

Someone in the PCB actually put pen to paper and wrote these incredibly daft thoughts for public consumption. Granted, the craziest part of the exchange — when Butt accuses the English of throwing the third ODI for money (because not even the Pakistanis’ own chairman believe the team can win legitimately) — is improvised, but the whole bizarre episode is a little gem of insanity. I increasingly understand why Pakistan cricket is what it is.

The Wrong Way To Investigate Spot-Fixing

The spot-fixing allegations have unleashed a full-blown media spectacle, which means editors around the world are trying to “advance the story” every day. It’s an odd feature about journalism, based on the mistaken premise that readers and news consumers only want to talk about one major item per allotted time period, even if there aren’t any new developments attached to it.

So, we had some great journalism from News Of The World that broke the Pakistan story. Audio tapes, no-ball footage, sting operation stuff — all excellent. Then, we heard relatively little: the police aren’t entitled to say anything; the Pakistanis are sticking to a “denial isn’t just a river in Egypt” strategy, and no one has admitted flat out to doing anything wrong.

What’s an editor at, say, The Australian supposed to do? Well, there are plenty of angles — what does this scandal mean for the ICC anti-corruption unit? If it happened in England with Pakistan, did it happen with other teams? Have other players been approached? (Turns out almost everybody has, including hapless Bangladeshi players.) OK, but what else? How about an absolutely ludicrous, anonymously-sourced, shoddy excuse for journalism? Begin excerpt:

Two IPL officials from India independently verified that a leading batsman had played so suspiciously that they could not explain his behaviour.

When The Australian asked direct questions about the batsman both officials agreed that his performances were highly suspect. They did not want him named for fear that it could be traced back to them and lead to retribution in India.

What’s wrong with this paragraph? A few things: first, we don’t know who’s giving the paper this information. We don’t know their agendas (anti-IPL? anti-BCCI? anti-Indian batsmen?) so we can’t evaluate their evidence. Which brings us to point 2: there isn’t any evidence, and point 3: we don’t even know which batsman they’re talking about. This is the opposite of responsible journalism; instead of informing and providing the truth, we have innuendo and alarmist rumor-mongering. Spike this story.

Is Spot-Fixing So Bad?

Now that the shock is beginning to subside, some difficult and uncomfortable questions are being asked about the current Pakistani bookie scandal. Such as: is it so wrong to agree to bowl a no-ball when you still deliver the goods in the match? Andrew Miller spells out the debate in Cricinfo:

Asif and Amir can point to some of the most sensational fast bowling seen in England for two decades – 31 wickets at 24.29 doesn’t look like the work of a pair of under-achievers – while Butt can restate his boast that both Australia and England have been brought low on this tour – no matter how circuitous the route to both victories turned out to be.

There in a nutshell is the paradox of spot-fixing. It need not affect the end-game, and as this investigation unfolds, it may even prove to be so endemic that the players themselves see no harm in accepting the bonuses that come along the way. A sporting career is, after all, distinctly finite – even one as youthful and brimful with promise as Amir’s. And in a country as traumatised as Pakistan, where one’s brief time at the top could transform not only one’s own life but that of everyone around you, it is so wrong to reach that extra metre? A love of money may be the root of all evil, but can it always be classified as a sin?

This is a tough question, but let’s try and articulate the moral case against spot-fixing.

A) You are not performing at the level you could, thus depriving yourself, your teammates, and the opposing side of a fair game. (E.g. What would have happened if Aamer picked up a wicket on that ball?)

B) In countries where gambling is legal, you are colluding in a massive conspiracy that cheats thousands of people. Granted, I think it’s foolish for anyone to bet on something as insignificant as a no-ball or wide, but people who do it under the purview of the law shouldn’t lose their cash because of “insider trading.” Chance is chance.

C) The “gateway” argument, that is, spot-fixing could easily lead to match-fixing. There are already claims in the News of the World that the Sydney Test was rigged, and that the upcoming ODIs would have been as well. To allow spot-fixing is to make the slope toward match-fixing much, much easier to travel. (This is more of a consequentialist argument, but important to consider.)

Any other arguments against spot-fixing?

Test Cricket Dead? Not To The Pakistanis’ Bookie

During the News Of The World tape sting, Mazhar Majeed, the Pakistani agent-slash-crookie-bookie, made a dubious case in favor of Test cricket. Explaining how he helped fix Pakistan’s dramatic collapse in the Sydney Test, he said:

“We let them get up to 150 then everyone lost their wickets,” Majeed revealed. ”That one we made £1.3 [million]. But that’s what I mean, you can get up to a million. Tests is where the biggest money is because those situations arise.”

Ah, the irony. While the world’s boards and broadcasters fret about what will happen to the oldest form of the game, the bookies seem to be its most loyal fans. Unbelievable.

A Note Of Caution On Pakistan And Gambling

A very, very sensible post from tootingtrumpet at 99.94. A bit too light on the punishment side for my tastes, but a much-needed theme of reason:

At the time of writing, the allegations in the News of the World are just that – allegations – but, in a sense, these specific allegations don’t matter. Cricket has gambling, good and bad, in its DNA and it’s not going to go away anytime soon. So let’s deal with it in that light and not talk of a game shamed or lifetime bans. There are some frightened cricketers in London right now – cricket should first assure their safety, then assist the law in taking its course and then think about how to treat these young men (and some are very young). Casting these men out will do them immeasurable harm well beyond their professional lives and the game little good – cricket can only push back on gambling, never defeat it. And those caught up in cricket’s and gambling’s love – hate relationship are victims, not innocent, but victims all the same, of that Faustian bargain. We should treat them as such.