No let-up in Crowe's spin attack
JONATHAN MILLMOW - The Dominion Post | Thursday, 21 December 2006
Martin Crowe remains on the front foot about the legality of Muttiah Muralitharan's bowling action, including taking a swing at former International Cricket Council match referee and test captain John R Reid.
The two heavy hitters of New Zealand cricket are at odds over the Sri Lankan spinner and yesterday it was Crowe calling into question whether Reid understood the situation.
Reid was on the ICC illegal delivery panel that cleared Muralitharan six years ago but Crowe believes that has no relevance to now because Murali did not bowl his demon doosra then.
Crowe emailed the ICC with his concerns about aspects of Murali's performance in the second test at the Basin Reserve and after receiving a prompt response feels compelled to send television footage - specifically of Murali's spell into the northerly on the second morning.
Crowe's beef is that Murali's action appeared to go to pot under the stress of the conditions, and in doing so the Sri Lankan was able to extract prodigious turn at that stage of the test and capture 4-23 from eight overs.
That prompted Crowe during a commentary stint on Sky TV with respected West Indian Tony Cozier to call for the ICC to run regular checks on bowlers it has previously cleared in case they are falling back on old habits.
"I have no worries over his off-spinner whatsoever," Crowe said.
"It's the doosra which he now bowls more and more, often up to 50 per cent in a given spell, as we saw during the Wellington test, which is the only thing that needs further clarification.
"His doosra was banned two years ago and I believe needs consistent monitoring."
Reid told The Dominion Post on Tuesday that Crowe was speaking gobbledegook and had insufficient knowledge on the subject. Reid said the high-powered nine-man panel unanimously cleared Murali after being provided with all the relevant material.
The other members of the panel that cleared Murali were Doug Insole (England), Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka), Bob Simpson (Australia), Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe), Michael Holding (West Indies), Imran Khan (Pakistan), Nigel Plews (umpires' representative) and Clyde Walcott (West Indies, chairman).
Then Reid took a swipe at Crowe, saying his attack on their controversial spinner had given the Sri Lankans added motivation in the second test which they went on to win by 217 runs.
Crowe hit back yesterday at his integrity being questioned.
"I feel his comments about what side am I on are inappropriate," Crowe said.
"I'm an unbiased commentator. I'm on cricket's side. I'm trying to preserve the integrity of the game."