West Indies off-spinner Sunil Narine is facing the first major crisis of his promising international career.
Narine, the main bowling weapon of the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise, was today cited for a suspect bowling action for the second time in two matches. As a result Narine has been banned from taking part in the Champions League Twenty20 Final to be played on Saturday.
He was reported by the umpires after today’s semi-final against Hobart Hurricanes in Hyderabad which Knight Riders won by seven wickets. Earlier, he had been reported following their final group match against the Dolphins.
According to a Champions League T20 release, umpires Rod Tucker, S Ravi and Vineet Kulkarni had reviewed footage of the semi-final and “felt that there was a flex action in Narine’s elbow beyond the acceptable limit when bowling during the match”. He had already been on the tournament’s warning list – since he had not had his action cleared following the previous reporting – and as per the rules a bowler is banned from bowling further in the tournament should he be called a second time while still on the warning list.
Knight Riders will now be “advised” to send Narine to the Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai – which has been accredited by the International Cricket Council as a testing centre for suspect bowling actions – to have his action tested. The bowling ban is confined only to the Champions League T20 though and will not affect his West Indies’ duties on the tour. He is expected to lead West Indies’ attack in the first One-Day International against India on Wednesday.
What will concern the West Indies team management and the West Indies Cricket Board is that Tucker and Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena are both on the International Cricket Council’s Elite Umpires Panel and are likely to officiate in international matches played by the West Indies and involving Narine. Dharmasena was one of the officials in the Dolphins match.
Narine was the fourth bowler to be reported in the tournament, behind Lahore Lions’ Adnan Rasool and Mohammad Hafeez, and Dolphins’ Prenelan Subrayen. However, he is the first bowler to be reported a second time. This comes at a time when the ICC has been stepping up its action against suspect bowling actions, with several spinners being called and suspended from bowling in international cricket.
Narine’s ban comes as a big blow to Knight Riders, as they look to extend their T20 winning streak to 14 and secure the double of winning the IPL and the Champions League T20 in the same year.
West Indies Team management in India has as yet not spoken to Narine on the controversy as he is still in the Kolkata camp. The team’s interim coach Stuart Williams said he believed Narine would get over the controversy in a positive way.
“We haven’t actually spoken to Sunil as yet. Sunil obviously is a champion. He is a strong character,” Williams said during the West Indies’ media briefing yesterday. “Obviously the captain [Dwayne Bravo] is also playing for Chennai [Super Kings] so, we haven’t sat down and spoken about it as yet. So we are still waiting for a couple of days to have a chat . . . I think he will get over this in a positive way.”
Narine, along with Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell, were expected to join the West Indies squad once their CLT20 commitments were over. The final is on Saturday and now that Narine will not feature in that match he could suit up for West Indies in the first of their two warm-up one-day games against India A in Mumbai tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Australian spin bowling coach John Davidson has stated that the ICC’s crackdown on bowlers with suspect actions has come too late. He added the ICC had been tardy in penalising bowlers with illegal actions and as a result many upcoming cricketers who have grown up emulating their heroes might be at risk as well.
“You look at most international spinners going around at the moment and the majority are definitely what you would call suspect, and kids copy what international guys are doing . . . . It’s something the ICC probably let go on for too long, but I suppose it’s good in terms of the stance we took, not that we wouldn’t coach it [the doosra], but we wouldn’t try to turn traditional bowlers into doosra bowlers. It would have been much better [globally] if there had been a stance 20 years ago.”
Pakistan legend and current coach Waqar Younis has suggested that the ICC’s crackdown should have come after next year’s World Cup. He contended that the reporting and testing of players could affect the preparations of their respective teams ahead of the tournament.
“Is this the right time to enforce the protocols and the technology? I am asking this because every team plans ahead of the World Cup, and the suspensions will badly hit the teams whose bowlers got suspended or questioned. I mean the protocols and the technology should have been enforced after the World Cup,” he said.
The issue of tackling suspect actions had come up during the ICC’s cricket committee meeting in June, when there was a general consensus among members that the methods used to detect illegal actions were imperfect. It had recommended changes to help match officials get more support from bio-mechanists in order to identify illegal actions with “more confidence”.