Apologies to all - I have been both unwell and away recently. I will endeavour to make up for the significant length of time since my last posting.
In 1947, the law makers finally made the logical decision to combine Law 10 and Law 48. These were re-written as Law 26:
“For a delivery to be fair the ball must be bowled, not thrown or jerked; if either umpire be not entirely satisfied of the absolute fairness of a delivery in this respect, he shall call and signal ‘no-ball’ instantly upon delivery”.
This change seemed to simplify the situation, and for the next decade there were few problems with chuckers in world cricket. However, the mid to late 50s saw a sudden explosion of bowlers with very suspect actions. The various administrators around the world experimented and trialed many different wordings and interpretations for the throwing law, but none seemed to be ideal. Precisely what defined a throw was proving difficult to put into words. All countries had their chuckers, and as such, it was hard for any one country to hold the higher ground and push for a clear change. The MCC team was quick to criticize the Australian bowlers such as Rorke, Meckiff and Slater in the 1958 series, however, their own Tony Lock was as blatant a thrower as any. This made any significant complaints appear like sour grapes, as the MCC seemed happy enough to continue picking their own transgressor.
1961 saw the suggestion that the following phrase be added to the law:
“A ball shall be deemed to have been thrown, if in the opinion of either umpire, there has been a sudden straightening of the bowling arm, whether partial or complete, immediately prior to the delivery of the ball. Immediately prior to the delivery of the ball will be taken to mean at any time after the arm has risen above the level of the shoulder in the delivery swing. The bowler will not be debarred from the use of the wrist in delivering the ball”.
Thankfully, this suggestion was considered so confusing and overwhelming that it wasn’t adopted universally. Experimental notes and additional clauses were trialed, including the 1964 modification that stated;
“A ball shall be deemed to have been thrown, if in the opinion of either umpire, the bowling arm having been bent at the elbow, whether the wrist is backward of the elbow or not, is suddenly straightened immediately prior to the instant of delivery.”
Interestingly, these additional clauses seemed only to muddy the waters more, and it was through selectors choosing not to pick suspect players that the chucking furour of early 60s died away. The issue remained on the ICC agenda throughout the decade, however, no significant changes to the law were made. The 1980 code changed the numbering system, and the throwing law was contained in Law 24. The wording remained the same, and throwing was not considered a major problem in world cricket.
By the year 2000, throwing had again come to the fore. Off the field issues and the threats of litigation had resulted in major changes to how potentially suspect actions were dealt with. The 2000 revision of the laws by the MCC saw a change to law 24.2 as follows:
“Fair delivery – the arm
For a delivery to be fair in respect of the arm the ball must not be thrown. See 3 below.
Although it is the primary responsibility of the striker’s end umpire to ensure the fairness of the delivery in this respect, there is nothing in this law to debar the bowler’s end umpire from calling and signaling no-ball if he considers the ball has been thrown.
(a) If, in the opinion of either umpire, the ball has been thrown he shall
(i) call and signal no-ball
(ii) caution the bowler, when the ball is dead. This caution shall apply throughout the innings.
(iii) Inform the other umpire, the batsmen at the wicket, the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of what has happened.
(b) If either umpire considers that after such caution, a further delivery by the same bowler in that innings is thrown, the umpires concerned shall repeat the procedure set out in (a) above, indicating to the bowler that this is a final warning. This warning shall also apply through the innings.
(c) If either umpire considers that a further delivery by the same bowler in that innings is thrown,
(i) the umpire concerned shall call and signal no-ball. When the ball is dead, he shall inform the other umpire, the batsman at the wicket, and as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of what has happened.
(ii) The umpire at the bowler’s end shall direct the captain of the fielding side to take the bowler off forthwith. The over shall be completed by another bowler, who shall neither have bowled the previous over nor be allowed to bowl the next over.
(iii) The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible to the Executive of the fielding side and any governing body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain and bowler concerned.”
Law 24.3 saw the following wording:
“A ball is fairly delivered in respect of the arm if once the bowler’s arm has reached the level of the shoulder in the delivery swing, the elbow joint is not straightened partially or completely from that point until the ball has left the hand. This definition shall not debar the bowler from flexing or rotating the wrist in the delivery swing.”
Therefore, there were actually major restructuring of the laws in relation to process. Law 24.2 is substantially longer than previous, and was stated as such:It would seem clear that, despite the best efforts of administrators, the situation regarding throwing is no better defined now than it was a century ago. And that is a pretty sad situation for us to be in.