Has the ICC opened the door to a bunch of tossers?

Say what you like about Muttiah Muralitharan's suspect bowling action - but you can't beat him for cheek.

No sooner had the International Cricket Council absolved world cricket's best-known chucker of all his past "sins", than Murali's having a crack at the Aussie pace bowling attack, claiming that Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee have also infringed the delivery regulations. Lee - maybe, but McGrath?

If not total absolution, the ICC has at least attempted to defuse the perennial question of the little Sri Lankan's bent-arm deliveries by raising the degree of acceptability to a blanket 15 degrees for all bowlers. As of next year, all bowlers will be able to extend their arms by that amount at delivery. But Murali not a chucker? Yeah, right - and David Boon was a teetotalling wowser and Merv Hughes a shrinking violet.

The problem with Murali is that he's taken so many damned test wickets - 532 of them - that it's become impossible to ignore him. Only Aussie legspinner Shane Warne's taken more - ending the recent tour of India with 541. Murali now looks set to add to his total in New Zealand later this season.

Every time Murali claimed another test scalp over recent seasons, a legion of cricket purists cringed in unison. Murali's legspinning doosra was officially given the flick by the ICC - but now even that appears to be acceptable.

The 15 degree yardstick appears nothing more than an attempt to legitimise a problem that simply won't go away. Test umpires have no-balled Murali's suspect action and been branded racists by Sri Lankan cricket officials. Murali's given the ICC a nasty case of jock-itch - but their cure appears to be based purely on expediency.

Former Sri Lankan batsman Aravinda de Silva has applauded the decision - then what would you expect? But so has current Australian coach John Buchanan - although seemingly at odds with the bulk of his own squad.

Buchanan lauds the evolution of cricket, experimentation and the invention of new deliveries. But cricket's survived as long as it has without a proliferation of rock tossers or any need to alter the game's most basic disciplines.

The ICC has now opened the door for further abuse - except now it will be legal. Where umpires might once have questioned a bowler's action, they will now feel no obligation to make any hard decisions - and with the ICC's blessing.

Murali's certainly effective, but is he legitimate? Officialdom now insists "yes", although centuries of cricketing tradition still suggests "no".

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