'Bending' the rules at biomechanics lab in Perth

Biomechanics lab, where the future of bowlers with dodgy actions is decided is almost as famous as the fast and bouncy pitches in Perth.

updated: January 25, 2008 14:19 IST
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Almost as famous as the fast and bouncy pitches in Perth is the biomechanics lab, where the future of bowlers with dodgy actions is decided. It was the research done at this lab that finally prompted the ICC to alter the bending degree to 15.

It was the biomechanics laboratory at the University of Western Australia in Perth, where Harbhajan Singh, Shoaib Akhtar and Muttiah Muralitharan were tested after they were reported to the ICC for chucking and it was from here that the reports were sent to the ICC that eventually cleared them.

A rather non-descript facility, tucked away in the basement of the University, this laboratory is among the most recognised in the world to test bowling actions.

It was over 10 years ago that Sri Lankan off spinner Muralitharan was first tested in this lab and then again as recently as three years ago when he was suspected of chucking the doosra.

Biomechanist at University of Western Australia, Amity Campbell was on the team that analysed Murali's doosra and finally deemed it legal.

"When Murali comes in we get a 3-D reconstruction, his upper arm forearm. The image shows you a surgical plane, you can see that it maintains that bent appearance throughout his action. Therefore it's deemed that he's not getting any advantage by bending his elbow, that graph demonstrates that when his extension starts and that it's about 10 degrees of extension," said Amity Campbell.

Besides highly specialised software that provides 3-D images, the lab has 12 infrared cameras that detect and analyse even the slightest movement at five times the speed of a normal camera.

"We cover Murali with retro-effective markers, with two of the cameras picking up each marker we get a full 3d analysis. So again we don't have that perspective error that you would normally because we're getting a full 3-d image we can pick up something that you would not be able to see normally on television," said Amity Campbell.

And it's not just the legality of bowling actions that is tested here.

"There's been a couple of other studies like looking at throwing technique, spin bowling technique," added Campbell.