Taskin Ahmed: Innocent victim or deservingly punished? © Getty Images
Taskin Ahmed: Innocent victim or deservingly punished? © Getty Images

A pall of gloom spread over the usually volatile Bangladeshi cricket fans after Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny were reported for illegal bowling actions by International Cricket Council (ICC) midway through ICC World T20 2016. Taskin and Sunny were not the first, and will certainly not be the last to be called for chucking. Social media went abuzz, as did former and current cricketers, with protests against the decision. Then, hell broke loose when the Taskin and Sunny were suspended from bowling with immediate effect. The opinion was simple: Taskin does not throw, and the ban on him has been unfair. Indeed, the photographs that circulated on social media reveals that Taskin bowls with a straight arm. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs Bangladesh, ICC World T20 2016, Super 10 Group 2, Match 22 at Bangalore

First things first: is this us, or does everyone else feel that the world is being a bit too harsh on Sunny by not standing by him? Is it because he, unlike Taskin, is not a champion bowler? Or is it because everyone acknowledges that Sunny chucks? Live Cricket Blog: Australia vs Bangladesh, T20 World Cup 2016, Match 22 at Bengaluru

Anyway, we are digressing. Let us first check the images that have been doing rounds on the internet. Let us check this tweet, featuring images of every ball bowled by Taskin during the Netherlands match.

Photo courtesy: @Istiaq258 on Twitter
Photo courtesy: @Istiaq258 on Twitter

The action looks fine, does it not? Indeed, the arm is straight at the elbow on every single occasion. Indeed, there is nothing in these images that tell us that Taskin throws. So, should we accept that Taskin’s action is legal? READ: Ravichandran Ashwin hits back when questioned about his bowling action

NO, because images on the collage prove nothing.

Let us start with the actual law now — Law 24.3 (Definition of fair delivery — the arm).

“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 a bowler from flexing or rotating the wrist in the delivery swing.”

All pictures in the painstakingly accumulated collage pertain to his arm just before he delivers the ball; in other words, reasonably after it crosses the shoulder. What we need to do is check whether the elbow joint does not straighten after it reaches the shoulder level.

In other words, if Taskin’s arm was found reasonably bent at the time it reached shoulder-level and straightened afterwards, his action is illegal.

Note: A lot of people misunderstand this part of the law. An action is NOT illegal if the arm is bent at the point of delivery. It is, however, illegal if it was bent when the arm reached shoulder-level AND straightened afterwards. Despite the ridicule he has received from fans and critics alike, Muttiah Muralitharan, thus, had a clean action.

So, what does his arm look like when it reaches shoulder level?  Acquiring videos of his recent action was difficult, but BD Sports News 24 did a wonderful job by uploading a video from the Netherlands match (the same match the above collage is from).

We played the above video in super slow-motion to find the exact point when Taskin’s arm reaches shoulder level. Given the angle of the camera, we think the picture on the left-hand was clicked when the arm was at shoulder level, but some would argue that it was the latter.

It is evident that Taskin’s arm bends significantly when his arm reaches his shoulder. Picture courtesy: BD Sports News 24 on YouTube
It is evident that Taskin’s arm bends significantly when his arm reaches his shoulder. Picture courtesy: BD Sports News 24 on YouTube

We think we have proved conclusively that Taskin’s arm bends at shoulder level. But the point of release is important as well.

 

 

It is evident that Taskin’s arm straightens at the point of delivery. Picture courtesy: BD Sports News 24 on YouTube
It is evident that Taskin’s arm straightens at the point of delivery. Picture courtesy: BD Sports News 24 on YouTube

So there you have it. At first glance, it may not seem like Taskin has a questionable bowling action, but slowed-down replays certain raise a few questions. Hopefully Taskin can remedy his action and return to doing what he does best, but for now the ICC is right in their analysis of his action. We think Taskin bends his elbow when the arm reaches shoulder-level and straightens at the point of delivery. What do you think?

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry and CricLife. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)