Cricket: Should the ICC Listen to Michael Holding's 'Doosra' Complaint?

Linus FernandesAnalyst IIMay 1, 2011

Holding with Ian Botham
Holding with Ian BothamBen Radford/Getty Images

Fast bowling legend Michael Holding set the cat among the pigeons with his comments regarding the legality of the "doosra" during the second ODI between Pakistan and West Indies at St. Lucia.

It is not the first time that old-timers have questioned the legality of the delivery. It will not be the last.

India’s Bishan Singh Bedi is another rabid critic of the off-spinner’s googly.

The Indian spinning giant once famously remarked:

“What is a doosra? The other man in a woman's life is a doosra. The other woman in a man's life is doosri. So basically, doosra is unethical, immoral and illegal.”

Some time ago, an off-spinner was a defensive bowler. It was his counterpart, the leg-spinner or the orthodox left-arm spinner, who was the attacking type.The offie was usually used to counteract the left-handed batter.

But with the invention of the "doosra" by Saqlain Mushtaq, which was then shamelessly plagiarised by Muttiah Muralidharan and Harbhajan Singh, the off-spinner underwent a transition from a plodding defender to a predatory bird of prey. 

It helped that the freakishly gifted Muralidharan was given more than enough leeway by cricketing authorities. Just when you believed that Murali had been sorted out by international batsmen, he discovered anew the elixir to more wickets, the "doosra."

Bedi called for the retirement of the "doosra’"with Muralidharan.

He did not spare Harbhajan Singh either, terming him a chucker.”

Pakistani reaction to Holding’s statement has been swift with former spinner Iqbal Qasim insisting that the “doosra” is a legal delivery and that the fast bowler should take his grievances to the ICC.

Holding’s statement reeks of sour grapes,” though.

If the West Indies possessed a spinner of the calibre of Harbhajan Singh or a Muttiah Muralidharan or even a Saeed Ajmal or a Mohammad Hafeez, they would be least likely to call their hero out.

West Indian cricket has fallen from its glorious heydays, degenerating to a team of individual talents who would rather partake of IPL riches than play for country.

The Windies are, however, a group of nations that produced the finest off-spinner of his generation, Lance Gibbs—the first spinner to get to 300 Test wickets, 

If by some weird twist of fate, the ICC decide to ban the "doosra," how will cricket lovers rate the pedigree of a Muralidharan or a Bhajji? There will be an asterisk against their records.

Even if statisticians delve into their wickets and mark out the ones attributed to "doosras," can they pick out the ones that were set up by the "doosra?"

The game has changed and there’s no turning back. Like it or not, the "doosra" is here to stay.

Michael, take a not-so-subtle hint and teach your boys the magical delivery. For good measure, throw in the carom ball as well.

If you can’t beat them, join them.

Quote of the day:
People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest. - Hermann Hesse