Illegal bowling actions have been one of the major talking points in world cricket in the recent past.
One of the major instances where a player was called for an illegal bowling action was during the 1995 Boxing Day Test where Muttiah Muralitharan was in the spotlight.
He had to undergo several tests in Australia to prove the legality of his bowling action.
According to the rules of the International Cricket council (ICC) An Illegal Bowling Action is where a player is throwing rather than bowling the ball.
This is defined by the ICC as being where the player’s elbow extends by an amount of more than 15 degrees between their arm reaching the horizontal and the ball being released.
Match Officials in international cricket use the naked eye and their cricketing experience to decide whether they believe a player is using an Illegal Bowling Action and, if so, they will submit a report.
Over the years many Sri Lankan players were reported for illegal bowling actions it includes players such as Kumar Dharmasena, Sachithra Senanayake, Tharindu Kaushal and Suresh Perera.
Recently Akila Dananjaya was also reported for an illegal action.
Dananjaya had been a consistent performer for Sri Lanka across all three formats until his action was reported during the Test series against England in November last year.
Ever since he was reported for a suspect action he has worked closely with Asanka Gurusinha, who is the in charge of Sri Lanka cricket’s high performance Centre at Khettarama.
Along with the help of the coaches he has monitored Dananjaya’s bowling action from close quarters.
“Akila’s progress is good; he has been working with our spin bowling Coach Piyal Wijetunge and he will be touring India with the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team. That will be another test for him. It’s pointless trying to test him with lower quality sides and that’s going to help us and at the same time that is going to help him as well. We are hoping that he will be fine for the New Zealand series at home in August,” Gurusinghe said.
He also highlighted the fact they will not recommend a bowler to play for Sri Lanka unless his action is cleared.
“We are very strict about suspect bowling actions; the coaches will have to work very hard to make sure that even if they think that there is a certain suspect of a bowler we will test him immediately,” Gurusinghe emphasised.
After Dananjaya had remodelled his bowling action he lost the to ability to take wickets regularly.
According to Gurusinghe, that is something to do with his confidence.
Furthermore he said that Akila must have been under pressure to fulfil his team’s expectations.
"At the same time, they have to be cautious about the bowling action as well. During the recent One Day International (ODI) series in South Africa Akila was worried whether he would be called for his action once again. We need to make sure that he is focusing on the game, not on his bowling action,” a thoughtful Gurusinghe said. During the recently concluded South Africa series he averaged 92 with the ball and he was only able to take four wickets."
Akila’s exclusion from the world cup has been a surprise for the fans, but he will have to impress the selectors if he is to make a comeback in to the National team.
During an interview after the One Day Internationals in South Africa, Asantha de Mel was concerned whether he could make an impact at the World Cup.
“We watched him in South Africa and he is not having the same impact as before”.
“He is not spinning the off-break and has become too predictable. We wanted him to come in the middle overs and take at least two wickets for 50 runs but not nothing for 50,” he emphasised.
Despite Akila’s exclusion from the World Cup squad Gurusinghe is hopeful of his comeback in to the National team in the near future.
“Akila is an asset to the team. He is a hardworking individual and I am confident that he will perform well in the years to come”.
Gurusinghe also said it is about time that Sri Lanka Cricket informs the coaches in the local school cricket arena about the standards that the bowlers need to be at and what needs to be done to prevent bowlers being caught for illegal bowling action when they play international cricket, so that we will not lose players in the future.
“We need to improve our school cricket system and we need to have conversations with the school coaches to prevent this from happening so that it is better for the future of Sri Lanka cricket,” he concluded.
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