Paul Munyuki Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE off-spinner Prosper Utseya says he has been left in shock after being reported for a suspect bowling action following the third One-Day International against South Africa in Bulawayo on Thursday evening.The soft-spoken Utseya insists he hasn’t broken any rules and there is nothing wrong with his bowling action.
A statement from the International Cricket Council indicates that the match officials’ report “cited concerns regarding Utseya’s arm ball and fast delivery, and concluded that the bowler’s action needed to be tested”.
Zimbabwe were whitewashed 0-3 in the three-game ODI series.
“I have been playing for the last 10 years and that is a long time in cricket. I have not done anything different because the way I have been bowling since my debut is still the same way I bowled against South Africa in Bulawayo,” said Utseya.
“It is very disturbing and discouraging when people come out and label me with such allegations. It is something that will definitely be on my mind because it’s difficult to ignore, but I will have to have a strong mind frame so that I play well for my country in the triangular series.
“I will have to be professional and strong about it as much as I can because at this stage there is nothing I can do about it but play to the best of my abilities, anyway, it is said one is innocent till proven guilty.
“I have played for a long time, a decade is surely a long time, and I believe if there was anything I was doing wrong with my bowling action then the ICC should have picked it a long time ago.
“I was shocked when I received the news about these accusations because I had played as innocently as I have always done and I have never had any thoughts of unfair or unlawful play.”
ICC general manager for cricket, Geoff Allardice, told the media in a statement that there were concerns about Utseya’s action.
“It is something they are expected to do as part of their job although the concern about suspect actions expressed after the recent ICC cricket committee and chief executives meetings may have given the umpires greater confidence to report,” he said.
Utseya has become the fourth off-spinner to be reported for an illegal bowling action by the ICC in recent months.
Sri Lanka’s Sachithra Senanayake and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson were reported and then later banned from bowling by the ICC after the off-spinners were found to have illegal actions.
Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was also reported earlier this month after the team’s defeat to Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle.
It was the second time Pakistan’s leading spinner was facing question marks about his bowling after being reported and later cleared for a suspect action in 2009.
“But I guess it comes with the nature of being a bowler, spin especially. If we look at the history of the bowlers who have faced such allegations we note that most of them are spin and it usually comes against the top teams a good example being Murali (Muttiah Muralitharan) against Australia,” added Utseya.
Utseya is expected to undergo an examination in 21 days from the day of the game.
Utseya also took time to talk about the high-profile triangular.
“As cricketers we are happy that Australia have finally made it here, putting aside all the (international) politics that was standing in their way and for them to be here shows that they are committed to the game, which is good for Zimbabwe cricket,” said Utseya.
“We are definitely looking to end up in the final but the kind of cricket we are playing now is very different from how we were playing back then in 2010 because we are not batting well and that is a huge worry for us.
“But we have to remain positive as we have a nation to play for, national pride is at stake, a home crowd to please and we have to try and justify why we are a Test playing nation.
“As Zimbabwe, winning has not been coming at the rate at which we all want and the ICC rankings speak volumes of where we are and that is why each one of the national players have to be dedicated to the game and put their all to work as a unit if we are to hit the right form.
“The onus is on us as Zimbabwe, the batsmen have to do their job and if, as the bowling department, we are able to continue with the way we have been bowling, then we will have an opportunity to win some games.
“It is not going to be easy but with the conditions (at Harare Sports Club) if we are able to balance our bowling and bat properly then I am sure we will be able to come out with something.
“There is no better way of doing so that when we get an opportunity to host two of the greatest cricket playing nations so with that in mind we are under a lot of pressure to perform or win let alone make it to the final.
“The bigger picture is we have to worry about the things we can control, including fielding, where we make mistakes, we have to cover up with a better act in another department.”