Suneel Raju gets clean chit

Off-spinner gets action sorted out at University of Western Australia

 There can be nothing more humiliating for a bowler than being reported for a suspect action. Karnataka Ranji player Suneel Raju has had to endure this indignity on more than one occasion.

Fed up with such repeated embarrassments, Raju decided to get the issue sorted out once and for all at the University of Western Australia, which follows standard International Cricket Council procedure for testing suspect bowling actions.

The process was set in motion with the past KSCA committee, headed by president Anil Kumble, getting permission from the BCCI, for Raju to be tested in Perth. The present ruling dispensation, under secretary Brijesh Patel, took it further after the elections to the association. Raju, though, had to bear all his expenses.   

After an extensive 3D bowling assessment in the laboratory, the tests concluded that no off-break or arm ball delivery by Raju exceeded the ICC elbow extension tolerance range of 15 degrees. Relieved at the outcome, the 25-year-old hopes to have an uninterrupted run in the coming domestic season. 

“I would lose about four-five months everytime I was reported and what was frustrating was that my action was always cleared after watching my videos. This certificate that clears my action is the ultimate. I have submitted it to the KSCA and they will forward it to the BCCI,” said Raju.   

The assessment included comparison of match and lab testing footage and the expert team felt Raju “bowled with vigour, flight and turn, and that the bowing technique analysed in this assessment is a good representation of his match technique. 

The findings of this 3D assessment indicate that Raju bowls within the guidelines set out by the ICC with respect to the fair delivery law. Where his bowling technique in matches is consistent with the technique used in this 3D biomechanical assessment, then it is our expert opinion that Raju is bowling legally,” the report noted.

The tests also found that Raju had a natural hyperextension problem which meant he has to receive leeway in the elbow extension. For example, if a bowler has a hyperextension (similar to that of former Pakistani quick Shoaib Akhtar whose extension of elbow joint was beyond its normal range of motion) of 10 degrees and if his elbow extension is 20 degrees while delivering a ball, then the bend should be calculated at 10 degrees, well below the permissible 15 degrees. 

For Raju, the average elbow extension for off-break delivery was 12 (± 0.5) degrees and for arm ball it was 9.5 (± 0.83) degrees.

“In accordance with ICC regulations governing the treatment of hyperextension, elbow extension past zero is not included in the final elbow extension range. This is due to the fact that the bowler has little to no mechanical control once the joint passes into hyperextension (past baseline zero) and it is therefore discounted in the elbow extension tolerance threshold,” pointed out the report.

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