Sunday, July 01, 2007

Throwing in the Towel?

Friday's 20/20 saw one of the most blatant pieces of cheating I've ever seen on a cricket field - yet it seems to have been almost totally overlooked almost everywhere except in the Telegraph.

Marlon Samuel's quicker ball to get a bemused Paul Collingwood stumped was delivered with a crooked elbow that any MLB pitcher would have been proud of. It clocked in at 78mph, whereas every delivery before and after, delivered with the fantastically languid action that Samuels adopts, was timed at around 50mph.

There was no reaction at all from the square-leg umpire, and as far as I'm aware there has been no follow-up report from the match referee.

Bizarrely, the Sky commentators TOTALLY ignored the evidence of illegality in front of their eyes. The Slowmo from side-on showed clearly that Samuels had chucked the ball... it was repeated three times, so you got the impression that the director was ready for them to comment. Shamefully, David Lloyd and Nasser stayed silent making only guarded comments about the variations in the speed of deliveries. Quite a shocking reaction, when they are normally so quick to jump on any potential scandal going on out in the middle. (Consider the way Inzamam's antics at The Oval last year were dissected in minutest detail)

Credit where credit's due - Aggers on TMS today compared the delivery with that off Jocky Wilson throwing a dart. This elicited a weary sigh from Gus Fraser and a comment along the lines of 'please, not all this again?' Remember Fraser was on the ICC committee that effectively cleared Murali, when a group of previously sober judges turned into wild eyed Pythagorian Professors measuring degrees and angles to try to defend the indefensible.

It now seems the 'offical' reaction to chucking is to either ignore it, or to brush it under the carpet.

Samuels's 'pitch' (I'm not going to credit it with the description 'delivery') happened in a meaningless 20/20 game - a format that used to be called 'beer match' when I played them in club cricket. It could have cost England the game - what happens when he tries it in a Test Match, or full ODI?

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