Nip it early

Help suspected throwers when they're juniors

West Indies cricketing legend Sir Everton Weekes has suggested regional coaches identify and work on bowlers with suspect actions in their formative years, rather than wait until they reach the senior and international level to take remedial measures.

Speaking this afternoon to Barbados TODAY Sir Everton said it was very difficult for bowlers to play with faulty actions during their early years in the game and then successfully change their mode of delivery after they were cited for throwing. Sir Everton’s comments came as West Indies off-spinner Sunil Narine’s future career hangs in the balance after being called for the third time in fewer than 12 months while playing cricket for Kolkata Knight Riders under the auspices of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Sir Everton stressed the importance of schools cricket as well as other junior tournaments in working with prospective cricketers who have kinks in their actions.

Sir Everton Weekes wants coaches to deal with suspected throwing in its infancy.
Sir Everton Weekes

“If the situation [suspect action] is noticed at the beginning it should be dealt with at that stage. With the authorities being very stringent on bowling actions it is best to be dealing with such problems at age 10, 11 or before, rather than later,” he said.

Sir Everton said he found the Narine case rather peculiar. Noting he was not privy to all the facts related to the Trinidad and Tobago off-spinner’s situation, he stated that initially he thought the concern with Narine was with his straighter delivery and the ball that went away from the right-hander.

“Now the authorities have a problem with his off-break. I find it all rather peculiar,” he said, adding the situation could have repercussions for Narine’s future in the game.

Following Narine’s latest call for throwing, IPL authorities said Narine could not bowl his off-break and would be banned if he did so, but added that he was permitted to bowl his other deliveries.

Sir Everton also wondered why the situation with Narine was now coming to the fore in India when he had been playing international cricket and in the IPL for a few years without being called.

Sunil Narine's career in the balance.
Sunil Narine’s career in the balance.

Meanwhile Kolkata Knight Riders’ bowling coach Wasim Akram has said Narine would bounce back from his current rough patch.

Following a rehabilitation programme after being called for throwing in last year’s Champions League T20, Narine was once again called for a suspect action in this year’s IPL and subsequently barred from bowling the off-spinner. Akram insisted things would soon fall into place for the champion spinner.

“He is a hard working guy and I am sure everything will go well for him. KKR need him. Narine has been exceptional for KKR. He bowled us to the championship in 2012, and he contributed immensely last season,” the legendary Pakistani pacer told reporters in Kolkata today.

Giving an update on his retest for the off-spin delivery, Akram said: “We are expecting the report on Narine in the next couple of days, which would decide his fate.”

Narine has received the support of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board with chief executive officer Suruj Ragoonath last week stressing they were fully committed to assisting him in whatever way he needed support. However, some regional fans have been unsympathetic to Narine’s case, citing his previous preference for representing Kolkata Knight Riders in the lucrative IPL, rather than play for the West Indies.

Narine is the third frontline West Indian bowler who has been cited for throwing in the last decade, though he has never been called under the aegis of the International Cricket Council. Fast bowler Jermaine Lawson, still only 33, had a promising international career halted in 2005 because of a suspect action, while off-spinner Shane Shillingford has twice been called at the international level during series in India and New Zealand in 2013.

Both Lawson and Shillingford, as well as Narine, came through organised junior regional cricket with the same bowling actions which subsequently landed them in hot water with authorities as seniors.

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