Cape Town - Fixing Aaron Phangiso’s action won’t be a problem, but fixing it in one week – ahead of the South African team’s departure for the World T20 tournament – will present a significant challenge for the spinner and those tasked with the remedial process.
Cricket South Africa announced on Tuesday that tests, conducted last Friday by the ICC, found Phangiso’s action to be illegal. The assessment of Phangiso’s action, alarmingly found that “all variations of his deliveries exceeded the 15 degrees level of tolerance permitted under the regulations”.
Phangiso, who is in the South African squad for the World T20, will not be considered for selection for the first two T20 Internationals against Australia on Friday and Sunday. Cricket SA need Phangiso to be bowling legally before the World T20, so they will want him playing in the last T20 international, next Wednesday in Cape Town. South Africa’s opening match in the World T20 tournament is on March 18.
“My biggest concern is the amount of time we have,” said Vincent Barnes, Cricket SA’s High Performance Manager, who along with the Proteas spin bowling coach Claude Henderson, has been tasked with helping Phangiso to remedy his action.
“I’ve worked with bowlers before when their actions have been questioned and the one thing I drum into their heads is to be patient and usually you have at least a month to get things right. We need time, hopefully we can get this right in a week.”
The trouble for Phangiso, whose action was reported during last week’s One-Day Cup playoff game between the Lions and the Warriors, is that he’s bowled in virtually the same way for most of his 11-year professional career.
He’s played 16 ODIs and nine T20Is, and last represented South Africa in India late last year. Even Barnes, who coached Phangiso when he played for South Africa A against England in a T20 match two weeks ago, said he’d witnessed nothing different with Phangiso’s action. “I watch every ball, it was quite a surprise especially this late in the season.”
His teammates at his franchise, the Highveld Lions, were privately angry about Phangiso’s action being labelled illegal last week, ahead of the One-Day Cup final at the weekend. Phangiso was still allowed to play in that match and picked up three wickets as the Lions won the title.
Phangiso will undergo a second round of tests on Monday that will determine whether he’s available for the final T20 match against the Australians and if he will travel to the World T20.
“The timing of this issue for Aaron and for our World T20 squad is clearly inopportune but we need to deal with it. We will work hard to remedy Aaron’s action and have him re-tested as soon as practically possible,” said Cricket SA CEO Haroon Lorgat.
Since Cricket SA’s new regulations to review bowlers came into effect last October, six players have been reported for illegal actions and another four during the Khaya Majola Under-19 week.
“In many respects it’s easier to do remedial action with youngsters, they can adapt quicker to changes, but for older players, guys who’ve bowled the same way for years, making adjustments is much harder,” said Barnes.
In addition, even if Phangiso’s action is deemed legal following his upcoming remedial work, there will be doubts about him when he plays at the World T20. “Players whose actions have been deemed suspicious always have a stigma attached to them even if their actions have been fixed.
“There is a lot of scrutiny nowadays, the ICC are keen on eradicating illegal actions, they are taking a tough stance,” said Barnes.
LAW 24, CLAUSE 3
A ball is fairly delivered in respect of the arm if, once the bowler's arm has reached the level of the shoulder in the delivery swing, the elbow joint is not straightened partially or completely from that point until the ball has left the hand. This definition shall not debar a bowler from flexing or rotating the wrist in the delivery swing.
In other words: As a spinner Phangiso is afforded a 5° limit of permissible bending of his elbow while delivering a legal ball according to this law. The initial bending occurs when the ball is at shoulder height during the delivery - a natural habit of all bowlers. It is then compared to the point of release of the ball - if it is found that at this point the degree of bending is of five points or greater, then the action is deemed illegal by the ICC is considered as chucking.