Marlon no chucker

Marlon Samuels receiving support from international bowlers.

MELBOURNE – Controversy surrounding West Indies batsman Marlon Samuels’ bowling action appears to be dividing international cricketers along national lines.

While former Australian Test player and Brisbane Heat coach Darren Lehmann’s flagging of Samuels for throwing has received support in some Australian quarters, other international cricketers have thrown their support firmly behind the Melbourne Renegades import.

Today Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan said the Renegades team and Samuels himself were bemused by what was a storm in a tea cup over an action that had already been cleared by the International Cricket Council in 2011.

“I didn’t have to encourage him as there was nothing wrong with it (action), it was mentioned by the opposition coach. It is his word against the other. I don’t think there will be problems,” the off-spin bowling great said.

Muralitharan echoed former South African spinner Johan Botha’s support for Samuels in the lead up to last night’s KFC Twenty20 Big Bash League clash against Adelaide Strikers at Etihad Stadium.

Adelaide skipper Botha believes only biomechanical testing can determine if Samuels is within the constraints of the 15-degree straightening of the elbow permitted.

“It is very difficult with to see with the naked eye, you go to testing and do the proper thing and from that you can see if he is doing anything wrong,” said Muralitharan. “It is not easy.”

Ironically, both Muralitharan and Botha, like Samuels, have endured individual verification of their actions at the University of Western Australia after being cited for having illegal actions.

Having carried a chucking stigma through an incredible 133-Test, 800-wicket career, Muralitharan said any accusations should go through the appropriate avenues.

“It is very difficult for a player if you are called that (cheat), there are correct channels to go. You go through the match referee then testing normally to see if you are guilty or not.

“Before then, you can’t say a lot, the technology is available.”

Meanwhile players’ union boss Paul Marsh was furious at the sanction and blot on the credibility of Lehmann, who is highly respected by his Australian peers.

Marsh said it was a sad state of affairs when a highly respected and experienced cricketer like Lehmann had the courage to publicly address an issue that everyone in cricket circles was talking about, but was charged under the code of behaviour. He said that the issue of illegal bowling actions was a blight on the game and yet the game was doing next to nothing to address it.

Lehmann was hit with an official Cricket Australia reprimand for his controversial comments questioning the legality of Samuels’ bowling action in a match last week which his Heat lost to the Renegades. For his troubles, Lehmann received a $3,000 fine suspended for two years.

“I just want something done. He couldn’t bowl in the IPL last year, yet he can bowl in the BBL. If he’s deemed legal, I’m totally understanding of that. But from my point of view, from 20 years of cricket, I’ve got a problem with 120km/h off no (run-up) steps,” Lehmann said after the match.†

As a result, CA deemed the former Test batsman had breached Rule 9: Detrimental Public Comment in CA’s code of behaviour. The rule states players or officials must not “denigrate or criticise another player or denigrate or criticise an official, umpire, referee or team”.

In 2008 Samuels was suspended from bowling in international cricket because of a suspect action. He was told his arm straightened by more than the permitted 15 degrees when he bowled both his regular off-breaks and faster deliveries.

Independent analysis of Samuels’ bowling was performed by Dr Mark King at the National Cricket Academy at Loughborough University. King’s analysis revealed Samuels straightened his elbow by an average of 27 degrees when bowling off-breaks, and by approximately 35 degrees with his faster deliveries.

Prior to those tests, only Samuels’ faster deliveries had been reported as suspect. However, after remedial work and analysis of his action, Samuels was cleared to resume bowling by the ICC in 2011.

“A comprehensive analysis revealed that his mean elbow extension was now comfortably within the 15-degree level of tolerance permitted under the relevant regulations,” the ICC said in a statement.

The independent analysis was performed by Bruce Elliott, a member of the ICC’s panel of human movement specialists, at the University of Western Australia, Perth.††

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