YORKSHIRE’s plans for a key period of Championship and one-day cricket have been hit by the news that overseas star Kane Williamson has been banned from bowling due to a suspect action.
The New Zealand batsman and part-time off-spinner was reported during last month’s second Test against West Indies in Trinidad by umpires Ian Gould and Rod Tucker, third umpire Richard Illingworth and match referee Chris Broad, amid concerns over a number of deliveries deemed to be dubious.
Williamson was sent for biomechanical testing at Cardiff Metropolitan University and that analysis has shown that his elbow extension when bowling exceeds the 15 degrees permitted under International Cricket Council regulations.
The 23-year-old will now undertake remedial work before undergoing further independent testing, which could take place at Loughborough University at the end of August.
It is unlikely, however, that Williamson will be able to bowl for Yorkshire again this summer, although he can still play as a batsman.
Not only has a firm date yet to be set for a re-test, but he could be leaving in early September in any case to take part in the Twenty20 Champions League.
Williamson is set to miss the last two Championship games –the crunch fixtures against title rivals Nottinghamshire and Somerset – due to his involvement with New Zealand outfit Northern Knights, with the Champions League itinerary still being finalised.
In the meantime, Yorkshire will be deprived of his bowling in all formats, an inconvenience to them in one-day cricket, especially, as they look to book their place in the T20 quarter-finals and embark on their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign.
Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire first team coach, described the situation as disappointing but is maintaining a philosophical outlook ahead of a key period for his side.
“It’s certainly not an ideal situation,” said Gillespie. “Andrew Gale (the Yorkshire captain) is able to rely on Kane for a few overs here and there, and although he hasn’t been used as a frontline spinner, he has bowled some very useful overs in T20.
“Galey’s used him in the first over of the game on a number of occasions, and we will perhaps have to rethink a few strategies.
“Kane’s a handy option for us to have with the ball and one that we’d like to continue to have had, but we can’t so we just have to get on with it.”
Williamson, who has taken eight wickets for Yorkshire in all cricket this season, proved his value when claiming 2-26 from four overs in the recent T20 win against Derbyshire at Chesterfield.
Yorkshire are vowing to do all they can to help him make the necessary adjustments.
“We will certainly help Kane as much as we can from a Yorkshire point of view,” said Gillespie.
“When we played up at Scarborough earlier in the week, he was working on a slightly different action before the day’s play to try to address the issues, and he’s started to experiment with one or two things.
“It’s looking quite good, and knowing Kane he will continue to work incredibly hard to make sure his action fits within the laws of the game.
“He’s a great lad and a hard worker, and hopefully he’ll be back bowling sooner rather than later.”
Yorkshire have another part-time spin option in Adam Lyth in addition to frontline spinners Adil Rashid and Azeem Rafiq.
Lyth, the 26-year-old opening batsman, has shown himself capable of contributing handy off-spin which Gale might look to utilise more.
“Adam has done a bit of bowling and picked up a few wickets this year,” said Gillespie.
“There’s no reason why he can’t play a bit more of a role with the ball; he’s certainly got the skills for it.”
Although Williamson has a slight kink in his bowling action, along with many other players in world cricket, there is perhaps a feeling he has been harshly treated. Williamson’s county colleague, Aaron Finch, spoke for many yesterday when he tweeted: “How does Kane Williamson get banned ‘throwing’ when other guys around the world don’t even get a mention let alone tested?”
It is interesting, in fact, that Williamson – who has taken 50 international wickets – is a part-time rather than a frontline spinner such as Saeed Ajmal, for example, whose bowling action has long been debated.
Williamson, however, can only take things on the chin and try to satisfy the governing body.
“I will concentrate on changing whatever’s necessary to return to the bowling crease,” he said.
“Clearly, the onus is on me to satisfy assessors as to the legality of my action, and I’m aware I have some hard work in front of me to achieve that goal.
“It’s never nice going through this sort of process, but it will be worth it if I can manage to bowl again at international level.”