Despite the restrictions placed upon me, I began to coach Elbow Spin in February 2004, as I had promised.Fifteen local cricketers had signed up for my first course. Most were senior batsmen who wanted to be able to bowl a few overs of spin when needed.
Then, just when I felt we were making headway, a letter from English Cricket Board (ECB), arrived on the mat telling me to stop coaching the action.After refusing came the warning that if I continued to coach the action, the ECB would cancel my coaching qualifications! The gloves were off now!
I notified all the main national newspapers of what was happening to me, and, in no time at all, my phone started ringing!
My next Elbow Spin course was attended by eight local cricketers, and ten cameramen!
Sky News sent their sports reporter, Pete Barraclough, and a camera team, to meet us next day and filmed us all at practice.
Within a week, the film had featured on Sky News in 44 countries!
The worldwide reaction was varied.
The Sunday Express, The Mail, and the Telegraph all agreed that it was a nonsense to have a legal action which couldn’t be taught!
One of the tabloids thought that I was 'demented' to teach it!
The New South Wales Cricket Association wrote to me saying that I was absolutely right! Others wrote that I was a crackpot, and they were right too!
A week after the newspaper headlines, I got another letter from the ECB.
This time it was a lovely, softly worded, letter, telling me that an ICC working party was now due to report back on this issue, in the autumn.
It ended by asking me to 'consider' halting my courses until the report was published. Of course, I was pleased to do so!
Early in 2005, the laws of cricket were changed to allow the elbow to extend by an amount of 'not more than 15 per cent in delivery'.
Essentially, this took the issue out of the hands of ordinary mortals, and left it for Big Brother to decide! The action has not been seen in first class cricket since!
When the law changed, I received lots of letters saying that the senders believed that my Elbow Spin courses had forced the ICC’s hand!
One such letter came from a coaching friend in South Africa.
I replied that my courses were far too tiny to have influenced the ICC.
He responded with a postcard, and the words... “In Africa, we think that tiny things REALLY DO matter! Try sleeping in a room with just one tiny mosquito!”
Torbay Weekly Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.