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India spinner's 360-twirl causes mass debate

Shiva Singh's pre-delivery twirl - he began and ended his run-up with a left-arm around the wicket action - was deemed to be a method of distraction by umpire Vinod Seshan, who called dead ball

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When Indian bowler Shiva Singh pirouetted to the popping crease in a recent under-23 game in Kolkata he set in chain a series of events that have caused widespread debate in the cricketing world.

Singh's pre-delivery twirl - he began and ended his run-up with a left-arm around the wicket action - was deemed to be a method of distraction by umpire Vinod Seshan, who called dead ball.

In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Singh said that this was not the first time he had employed his 360-turn prior to the moment of delivery and, on a previous occasion, he had not been stopped by the match officials.

"I use different variations in one-dayers and T20s so I thought of doing the same because the Bengal batsmen were developing a partnership," he said. "The umpires said dead ball, so I asked "why are you calling it a dead ball?"

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Umpire Vinod Seshan talks to Shiva Singh

"I delivered this 360-degree ball against Kerala in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as well, where it was fine. Batsman always go for the reverse-sweep or the switch-hit against bowlers. But when bowlers do something like this it's deemed a dead ball."

So is Singh's innovation comparable to modern strokeplay?

The Law of the game regarding deliberately distracting the batter is fairly clear.

While there is no definition of what the bowler's run-up should look like, Law 41.4  states that "it is unfair for any fielder deliberately to attempt to distract the striker while he/she is preparing to receive or receiving a delivery".

Furthermore "if either umpire considers that any action by a fielder is such an attempt, he/she shall immediately call and signal dead ball and inform the other umpire of the reason for the call".  

The MCC reiterated on Thursday that the bowler does count as a fielder and supported umpire Seshan's interpretation of the situation.

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Singh is an India Under 19 international

"The Law states that the offence is the attempt to distract the striker, rather than the striker actually being distracted," a blog post on the cricket lawmakers' website read.

"Consequently, it was for the umpire to decide if he felt that the tactic was done as an attempt to distract the striker.

"Unless the 360-degree twirl was part of the bowler’s run-up for every ball, the umpire may need to consider whether he/she feels that the twirl was done in an attempt to distract the batsman in some way.

"This is particularly so if there was no apparent advantage to be gained from the twirl, unlike, for example, the bowler varying the width of the release point or the length of his/her run-up, which are entirely lawful."

There are prior examples of bowlers being pulled up for distracting batters - in 2009, Stuart Broad was warned by match officials after pointing towards cover during his run-up, for example - while umpires are entitled to deduct five runs from the bowling side if they feel there has been a deliberate attempt to put the batting side off their game.

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Singh said that he has bowled the 360-degree turn delivery before

One former elite umpire, Simon Taufel, was not impressed by the delivery.

He told cricketnext: "It's up to the umpire but one would have to ask why the bowler did this and have to assume the only reason would be to distract or put the striker off. Doesn't seem right or fair to me. If it is his normal bowling action then maybe a different outcome."

A video of Singh's action went viral on Thursday, causing substantial debate among recreational players on social media.

Opinion was split, with some arguing the bowler's case, saying that they must be afforded the opportunity to innovate as batters have in recent years.

Others, though, described the technique as unnecessary and against the spirit of the game.

Where do you stand?

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