Ace spinner pulls out of World Cup
West Indies’ chances at next month’s ICC World Cup in Australia and New Zealand were dealt a major blow today with the withdrawal of mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine from the 15-man touring party
The Trinidad and Tobago off-spinner has decided to give himself more time to work on his bowling action, which was reported as suspect in successive matches during last year’s Champions League T20 where Narine represented Kolkata Knight Riders. Narine has never been called for a suspect action during international Tests, One-Day International or Twenty20 matches.
Following his troubles in the Champions League last year, Narine had told the West Indies Cricket Board that he would take care of his rehabilitation on his own. It is understood that Knight Riders were heavily involved in helping Narine during the time. After more than three months away from competitive cricket, Narine was instrumental in Trinidad & Tobago winning the domestic one-day competition on Saturday. He delivered an unbroken eight-over spell in which he cut through Guyana with his variations on his way to a six-for that included the wicket of the vastly-experienced Shivnarine Chanderpual, who was lbw to a classic offbreak.
Despite that successful comeback, Narine admitted that he was not completely confident about returning to international cricket.
“Playing for [T&T] Red Force and winning the NAGICO Super50 has been a big boost, but going in to the World Cup is a little too much too soon and, after consulting the WICB, for both West Indies’ and my sake we have decided to delay my return to international cricket until I am 100 per cent confident in all that I do,” Narine said in a WICB media release.
“Whilst I am very happy with the progress made to date with my action, and I express my thanks to the coaches working with me in Trinidad and Dr Daryl Foster in Perth, Australia, I am withdrawing from the World Cup.”
Narine’s decision comes less than a week after the ICC revealed that it will fast-track the testing process during the World Cup and submit a report within a week of the bowler’s action being reported. The faster evaluation is part of ICC’s effort to eradicate suspect bowling actions and is bound to defeat any strategy of teams saving bowlers with suspect actions for the latter stages of the World Cup; that would have worked under the Standard Regulations applicable to non-ICC Events where the bowler can continue to bowl in international cricket as long as he is tested within three weeks of being reported.
Despite not playing any international cricket after the Champions League, Narine was included in the World Cup squad by the Clive Lloyd-lead selection panel. In the Champions League, umpires initially reported three deliveries from Narine –– all quick balls –– in a group match against Dolphins. Knight Riders took a gamble by playing him in the semi-finals against Hobart Hurricanes. Narine, who managed to finish as the tournament’s highest wicket-taker, was banned from bowling in the final after all four semi-final overs were deemed suspect.
The WICB said Narine had undergone intense remedial work on his bowling action and preliminary tests had shown him bowling all his deliveries under the 15 degrees flexion allowance. However it added he required more time to be able to confidently bowl for a sustained period in international cricket with his new action. The WICB supported Narine’s decision to withdraw from the and said a replacement would be named shortly.
Narine is the second-ranked bowler in ODI cricket behind Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal who is also racing against the clock to be available for the World Cup after he too was cited last year for a suspect bowling action.
Narine, who last played an ODI last August against Bangladesh, has taken 73 wickets in 52 ODIs at an average of 26.49 and an economy rate of 4.10.
Over the past 15 months nine off-spinners have attracted the attention of the ICC over their bowling action and the degree of flexion.
Off-spinners under ICC scrutiny:
Marlon Samuels, West Indies: Reported in November 2013; cleared in December 2013 (but banned from bowling quicker deliveries)
Shane Shillingford, West Indies: Reported in November 2013; suspended in December 2013; cleared to return in March 2014 (but banned from bowling doosra)
Sachithra Senanayake, Sri Lanka: Reported in June 2014; suspended in July; cleared to return in December
Kane Williamson, New Zealand: Reported in June 2014; suspended in July; cleared to return in December
Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan: Reported in August 2014; suspended in September
Prosper Utseya, Zimbabwe: Reported in August 2014; suspended in October; cleared to bowl seam in December (but banned from bowling off-spin)
Sohag Gazi, Bangladesh: Reported in August 2014; suspended in October
Malcolm Waller, Zimbabwe: Reported in November 2014; suspended in December
Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan: Reported in November 2014; suspended in December