Lawson's bowling action
Jamaican officials dismiss charge of neglect
By Garfield Myers
Guyana Chronicle
May 17, 2003

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OFFICIALS of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) and the St Catherine Cricket Club have rejected suggestions that they neglected to act when questions about Jermaine Lawson's bowling action were publicly raised four years ago.

In an article published in the Barbados Nation on Monday, the highly respected cricket writer and commentator, Tony Cozier, charged that the young fast bowler's reputation was now being "besmirched because blinkered administrators refused to acknowledge there was a problem with his action in his formative years and did nothing to help him".

But over the last two days, president of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), Jackie Hendriks, Jamaica's team coach Robert Haynes, and St Catherine CC's cricket manager Ephraim McLeod all insisted "successful" corrective action was taken to help Lawson in late 1999 and early 2000.

They argued that the 21-year-old fast bowler's current problems were probably the result of "regression" since making the West Indies team last year.

The only West Indies bowler to be regularly clocked at 90 miles an hour or faster, Lawson was reported to the ICC a few days ago by umpires, David Shepherd and Sri Venkataraghavan, for "a suspect bowling action".

Lawson, who served a thorough apprenticeship in the West Indies age-group ranks before breaking into the senior team, will be allowed to continue playing for at least another six weeks while he works with "specialist advisers" to correct his action.

West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president, Wes Hall, has already said all will be done to help the young pacer get over his problems.

The damning umpires' report to the ICC followed Lawson's 7-78 in the first innings of the recent fourth and final Cable & Wireless Test against Australia at St Johnís, Antigua.

The visitors, up 3-0 at the start of the game and confidently expecting a historic series whitewash, were dismissed for a first innings 240 and eventually lost by three wickets as West Indies sensationally made a world record 418-7 to win, batting second.

Lawson was only able to bowl six overs in the Australian second innings because of a sore back, which could also keep him out of the seven-match one-day series starting at Sabina Park today.

Noting in his article that "the young Jamaican's action is questionable and his elbow does bend in delivery", Cozier recalled that at the 1999 West Indies Under-19 tournament in Barbados, he had pointed to flaws in the then teenager's action.

But, he said, "the protective Jamaican team management" accused him at the time of wanting to "undermine Lawson's confidence and future".

Recalling the circumstances this week, then Jamaica Under-19 manager and current senior team manager, Lyndel Wright, said he had considered Cozier's comments out of line since none of the umpires at the youth tournament had even hinted at a problem with Lawson's action.

Both Hendriks and Haynes insisted that "work" was done to help Lawson following the complaints about his action.

After extensive videotaping "from all angles" he was pronounced "clean", according to Haynes. "It would be unfair to say that nothing was done to help the young man ... we made a definite effort to have the problem rectified and as far as we could tell it was corrected...," said Hendriks.

McLeod said he and others at St Catherine CC "worked" with Lawson after universally acclaimed umpire, Steve Bucknor, told them that Lawson needed help.

A native of the parish of St Catherine, Lawson learnt much of his cricket at Chedwin Park, home of St Catherine CC. "Steve Bucknor reported to us that (the bowling action) was suspect and we should do some work on it and we did," McLeod told the Observer. "We tried to get him (Lawson) to bowl from closer to the stumps and to come from higher up with his delivery and to keep (his elbow) straight throughout.

It worked because Steve came back to look at him a couple weeks after that and he said he was comfortable with what he was seeing," said McLeod. The umpires' report seemed to suggest that they only had a problem with some deliveries bowled by Lawson in the first innings of the fourth Test.

They identified for special concern over 19 (of the Australia first innings), ball 2; over 21, balls 2,3, and 6; over 23, ball 4; over 25, ball 4; over 33, ball 5; over 37, ball 1; over 67, balls 2 and 4; and over 71, balls 1 and 2. Called in as a late replacement during the tour of India late last year, Lawson impressed observers with his pace and aggression. He grabbed world attention on the follow-up tour of Bangladesh, returning the astonishing figures of six wickets for three runs in the second innings of the first Test as West Indies romped to an easy win over the lowly rated Asians.

And, Lawson warmed up for his crucial fourth Test seven-wicket haul by grabbing a split hat-trick in a losing cause in the third Test of the just ended series in Barbados.

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