ICC’s 15-degree rule enough leeway: O’Keefe


Australian left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe has supported the ICC’s crackdown on suspect bowling actions and has stated that the ICC’s rule of allowing a 15-degree flex while bowling was adequate.

Since July 2014, the ICC’s match officials have reported six bowlers for suspect actions, including Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal. Ajmal, who has been Pakistan’s lead spinner across formats was subsequently banned after his action was deemed to be illegal for all deliveries and his flex was found to be more than twice the ICC limit of 15 degrees. Sri Lanka’s Sachithra Senanayake, New Zealand’s Kane Williamson and West Indies’ Shane Shillingford have also been banned in the past year for illegal actions.

“I think originally when the laws came in you were allowed zero degrees,” O’Keefe told the Sydney Morning Herald. “They brought in 15 degrees to give blokes that leeway. If you go past it in my mind you’ve been given a little bit of room and if you’re going past that 15 degrees, you’re taking the p**s.

“I’m sure there are guys that have got reasons why and if physically they can’t bowl legally, then fair enough. But the rules are in place for a reason and all throughout the game guys will try and push the rules to a certain point, but I think once you step over that line you have to pay the price, whatever that is at ICC level. It’s not fair, to be honest.

“I’m glad that they [ICC] are not going further with it as 15 degrees is enough. It should be zero, really. You should be trying to bowl with a straight arm.”

O’Keefe was recently awarded a call-up to the Australia Test side after he finished as the leading Sheffield Shield wicket-taker last season. With Australia scheduled to play Pakistan in the UAE, O’Keefe will be working closely with the side’s spin coaching consultant Muttiah Muralitharan in the lead-up to the series and he said that despite the differences in their style, he had a lot to learn from the Sri Lanka offspinner. The two were also team-mates for a season of the Indian Premier League, and played for the now-defunct franchise Kochi Tuskers Kerala.

“Although we’re two different types of bowlers, he has still got a great understanding of the game so it’d be nice to rehash some of that with him,” he said. “I look forward to seeing him and just learning off him.

“The game isn’t all about skill. Skill will get you there but the rest of it is tactics and how to bowl to a batter with what you’ve got and Murali obviously could do well because he could spin it both ways. But that did not stop him knowing what length to bowl, what line to bowl, and what fields to set.”