ICC bowling law heavy-handed

HARARE - Genuine role models in Zimbabwean sport come in short supply, few as exemplary, on and off the field, as national cricketer Prosper Utseya.

The Zimbabwe off-spinner’s quiet and reserved demeanour belies a fierce competitive streak — a fire we have seen grow each passing year inside that slight frame, for over a decade now — from the formative days at Takashinga Cricket Club, to the sudden international cricket entry, the turbulent captaincy era, the remarkable rise on the International Cricket Council (ICC) bowling chats, and now to being banned by the ICC last week over what the game’s controlling body terms illegal bowling action.

For the avoidance of doubt, let us get something clear right from the outset — we are unshakeably behind a clean game of cricket, entirely free of corruption, fixing, gamesmanship, cheating and all the syndicate-driven ills stalking professional sport these days — lurking in the darkness and threatening to destroy the fabric of the game.

True, there should be no sacred cows.

If Prosper Utseya or any other cricketer has transgressed, let the law take its course, and appropriate action taken.

But that is not our greatest concern at the moment. Our problem is with this bowling law that the ICC has created, and the way it is applied. In our view, it is a lopsided law, too punitive and inflexible in nature.

The lack of a clause that allows the cited bowler a chance to correct an action that in most cases is not deliberate, makes this law shockingly unfair and rigid.

We are quite convinced, as most people are, that in all cases (lately Utseya, Saeed Ajmal of Pakistan and Bangladesh’s Sohag Gazi), the intention on the part of the bowler has not been to cheat.

It is simply a twisted bowling action which, unfortunately, has accidentally tended to incline slightly on the illegal side.

In that instance, the offending bowler probably deserves benefit of the doubt — a chance to correct the mistake.

We certainly would expect more soberness in passing judgment from those running the sport.

Perhaps a strong warning, rehabilitation to correct the action, or some kind of deterrent fine.

A ban is absolutely ridiculous and irrational.

It is our view that the ICC have taken a rather heavy-handed approach on this one — one that sets a dangerous precedent for future decisions.

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