OPINION: Ronsford Beaton and that bowling action

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By Avenash Ramzan

Guyana and West Indies pacer Ronsford Beaton was reported for a suspect bowling action during West Indies’ second ODI against New Zealand on December 23 in Christchurch. Beaton sent down eight overs in that match and picked up 1-60.

As per the International Cricket Council’s regulations pertaining to suspected illegal actions, Beaton’s action will now be further examined. He is currently undergoing testing, which is mandatory within 14 days of being reported.

It is quite unfortunate that a player, with so much promise and expectation, in just his second international match, would face such a dilemma.

On the flip side, age is on his side…and at 25, he has time to rectify whatever deficiencies may exist and come back stronger, much like Sunil Narine has done.

No doubt, there has been increased scrutiny of bowling actions in recent years, with the Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan arguably the biggest of them all. Fellow off-spinners, Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez, also came under the radar.

The attention has not escaped the West Indies, with Jamaican fast bowler Jermaine Lawson being reported in 2003 after wrecking Australia with 7-78 in Antigua and leading the West Indies to victory.

Close to eight years after, off-spinner Shane Shillingford was reported for a suspect action and had to undergo a series of tests. This is after playing not one, now two, not five, but 10 years of First-Class cricket. Marlon Samuels’ action also caught the attention of the experts.

Beaton made his First-Class debut in March 2011. He was reported in December 2017. That’s a period of six years and nine months. During this time, he played for West Indies Under-19 in the Youth World Cup in 2012, Guyana, West Indies A and in the Caribbean Premier League.

He is also a product of the High-Performance Centre.

The question is ‘didn’t anyone notice there was something funny about Beaton’s action?’ Even if they did, was it communicated to the fast bowler? Was there any remedial work done?

Beaton’s report of a suspect action once again raises questions about how players are being monitored at the domestic level. At the last regional Under-19 tournament hosted in Guyana, there were several players who appear to have suspect actions.

Should the coaches take the blame? Should the umpires be responsible for keeping players in check? Or it is the current system is just not designed to detect possible deficiencies in the region’s bowlers?

Whatever the circumstances, the time is now to ensure that no other bowler goes through the humiliation that Lawson, Shillingford, Samuels, Narine and Beaton had to endure.

The territorial boards, and by extension, Cricket West Indies, must devise a proper system where players’ technical and tactical development is paramount. I say ‘proper system’ deliberately; one that is better than what obtained at the High-Performance Centre.

Sir Vivian Richards said someone dropped the ball on Beaton, essentially saying that someone in the current West Indies set-up should have picked up on his action before he reached international level.

Indeed, it’s an indictment on the cricket administrators of the region that in this fast-paced, technological era that something of this nature is allowed to occur.  

Time will tell of Beaton’s fate. It will also tell of the measures being put in place by the cricket authorities to avoid a repeat of this most unfortunate scenario.

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