Illegal bowling action has been one of those charges that no bowler likes to be accused of. Almost all names in the pantheon of great bowlers have been accused of ‘throwing’ or ‘chucking’ the ball, with varying degrees of impact on their careers.
The greatest example of a bowler’s career being thrown into the wind because of an apparent flaw in bowling action is Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal. Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan’s career was once under a cloud of doubt over accusations that he was chucking the ball. With the charge having such a big implication on the career of a bowler and his eligibility to be selected, umpires who have called the flaw in action have at times been berated more than the bowler.
It seems it is only fitting that the solution for determining the legality of a bowler’s action seems to have come from Saeed Ajmal’s country. A group of young Pakistani engineers claim to have developed a wearable technology that can measure the elbow flex in an action in real time, and so could potentially be used in match play.
CricFlex, as the product is known, consists of small motion sensors (of the sort used in phones for orienting maps) attached to a sleeve that a bowler can wear. The device sends its readings to an app, either on a mobile phone or a computer, immediately after the bowler has delivered.
The team’s research paper on the subject was accepted at an MIT conference in 2015. They have also patented the technology in the US and their work has been acknowledged by a leading biomechanist. They are now seeking formal validation testing from a biomechanics lab. The device is still a prototype, and requires further testing.