Cricket bowling controversies

There have been some magnificent cricketers throughout the years. Some incredibly fast-paced bowlers such as Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar as well as some phenomenal spin bowlers, none better than Shane Warne.

Elite sportsmen and women will always look for the edge. The extra 1% that turns the competition in their favour. None more so than cricketers and bowlers in particular.

We’re all familiar with a cricket bowling technique. A medium to fast over arm ball, or a spin ball either by wrist or finger. The subtle technicalities of bowling are truly phenomenal, especially at the top level of the game. Batsmen have literally a minuscule moment of time to make their decision and perform a batting action.

In an ideal world, sport would be played out with competing individuals keeping within the rules and spirit of competition. Both understanding that whatever is played should be done fairly with the winner being dignified and humble in victory whilst the loser being gracious in defeat.

It’s not often that a single incident in a game of sport can have such an impact on the rules that govern it. Moments like this don’t happen very often and so become memorable and create history as part of the evolution of the game.

Crickets strangest bowling techniques


One such event, that sent shock waves through the world of cricket happened way back on the 1st February 1981. During a one day international between rivals Australia and New Zealand, brothers Greg and Trevor Chappell were caught up in perhaps the games most controversial incident.

Australia v New Zealand cricket bowling controversy

With New Zealand needing 6 runs from the final ball, which would tie the match, Aussie captain Greg Chappell instructed his brother Trevor to ball an underarm to the Kiwi batsman Brian McKechnie. It doesn’t take an expert to realise it would be impossible to hit a 6 from that type of ball. Of course, McKechnie didn’t and Australia won the match.

At the time the underarm was a legal ball. Chappell didn’t break any rules, but it was hardly within the spirit of fair competition.

Understandably the fallout was huge. Former Australia captain Richie Benaud said, “it was one of the worst things I have seen on a cricket field”. Politicians also got involved, with the then New Zealand Prime minister accusing the Australians of cowardice.

As a result, the international cricket council went on to ban the underarm ‘pea roller’ type ball. The method can only be used with prior agreement between teams and has never been seen since.

Round arm

Another unorthodox bowling technique was made famous by Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga. The unusual action is quite distinctive and has earned Malinga the nickname “Slinga Malinga”.

Image of Lasith Malinga bowling controversy

To cricket novices, Malinga’s bowling action looks like he is throwing the ball, with many pundits and commentators questioning the legality of the action. The rules allow the round arm because Lasith Malinga’s arm does not straighten from a bent position; which is noticeable with all other permitted bowling movements.

Round arm bowling is not new to cricket. Indeed way back in the 1820’s, the style started to gain popularity amongst bowlers looking to gain an advantage over batsmen who were beginning to score heavily. At the time, bowlers using round arm were often given as no balls, with the style taking several years to be written into the rules.


IPL fans will have noticed a completely new style of bowling, performed by Rajasthan Royals very own Riyan Parag. The right-hander has developed a style so unusual that the legality question has been raised again.

Parag started using the sidearm during the 2021 IPL tournament, taking the prized wicket of Chris Gayle, who must have been at odds with such a strange action.

Image of Riyan Parag bowling

Fans on social media of course went crazy. Some suggested it was a cross between Malinga and Kedhar Jadhav, whilst pundits wanted to know how lawful it was. Indian cricket commentator Harsha Bogle asked, “How low is a legal sidearm delivery?”

It is worth noting that the umpire gave Parag a warning, presumably because the style is very low, it could almost fall into the underarm category; which as we know is illegal.

We’re sure bowlers will try and outwit their opponent with some even more bizarre styles that we have yet to see. Competition is fierce and players will always look for fine margins.

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