December 1995. A wiry young wrist spinner from Kandy is plying his trade in Australia. He bowls a perfect off-spinner, turning the ball from the fifth stump into the batsman. The batsman is clueless. Moments later, the bowler is clueless as well. Umpire Darrell Hair is standing next to the non-strikers’ end, left-hand outstretched, calling out a no-ball.
The young Muttiah Muralitharan went to the crease, figuring out if he had overstepped. As captain Ranatunga approached the scene of crime, Hair clarified that the call was for chucking. He faced a lot of catcalls and bionic tests, still managing to finish his career as the most successful bowler in the history of the game. To bring some uniformity in the rule, the ICC stamped a 15-degree rule to clean illegal actions.
It doesn’t always turn out to be like Murali. Apart from the stigma attached to being called a chucker, suspended bowlers are required to suppress their natural rhythm and bowl with a remodelled action, if they harbour hopes of bowling at the international level.
Here are five bowlers who came back after tweaking their action:
New Zealand’s current captain isn’t their stock bowler, but is a useful addition to their bowling reserves, sending down his harmless off-spinners. In 2014, Williamson was banned from bowling at the highest level when his action was found to be suspect during Kiwis tour of the West Indies.
He remodelled his action, making it comply with the regulations and returned to bowl. In 52 Tests and 93 ODIs, he has 29 and 27 wickets respectively.
After remodelling, he now bowls with a classic off-spinner’s free-flowing action, giving the ball a nice loop.