Bowling despite ban
Mohammad Hafeez, who has been banned from bowling in international cricket for one year by the ICC, is bowling in the Haier Mobile T20 Cup without having undergone any remedial measures to his action. Bowlers banned from international cricket for suspect actions can bowl in domestic cricket if their home boards let them, but it is unusual for them to do so without any attempt at correction.
Hafeez has so far bowled only in one match –– three overs for 35 runs on Tuesday for Lahore Whites against Islamabad –– and has not been used since because of a slight side strain.
ESPNcricinfo understands Hafeez has not remodelled his action since it was found to be illegal for a second time in two years in July. He was first pulled up for a suspect action in November 2014, then made the necessary changes and was cleared by the ICC in April 2015. However, he was back under scrutiny two months later and when tests revealed his elbow extended beyond the permissible 15 degrees, the ICC banned him for 12 months.
Hafeez cannot approach the ICC for a retest of his bowling action until the completion of his suspension, so at present there is no conclusive way to determine if he is bowling with his old action or a changed one.
According to ICC policy on illegal bowling actions, the concerned board shall formulate and implement a strategy to deal with players with illegal bowling actions in domestic cricket.
“We are monitoring him as there is a provision that he can bowl,” Intikhab Alam, the PCB’s director of domestic cricket, told ESPNcricinfo, “It’s not like we are being lenient with him. The umpires can still report him if they suspect anything wrong in his action.
“Since this ongoing tournament is being televised, it’s the best opportunity for us to monitor him closely. In a while, if he is reported at this level as well then he will be suspended for another three months.”
As per ICC rules, a bowler can have maximum elbow extension or flex –– the amount he bends and straightens his elbow while delivering the ball –– of 15 degrees; anything more, and the action is deemed to be illegal. When he was first banned, Hafeez had been found to bend his elbow as much as 31 degrees. At an unofficial retest in January, he had brought it down to 17 and 19 degrees following which the PCB applied for an official retest, which he cleared. The tests after his second report in July though indicated the elbow extension had exceeded the permissible limit again.
Last year, the PCB had decided to clamp down on questionable actions right from the domestic level and had directed match officials to report any bowler with a suspected action. The results were encouraging. Dozens of bowlers were reported and all of them were cleared after a short-term session at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.