Holmes action put under official scrutiny again

Warwickshire off-spinner Maurice Holmes, billed as ‘the English Murali’ when he was signed last year, is again under scrutiny from the England and Wales Cricket Board because of a suspect bowling action.

Holmes had his action cleared by the ECB last year but he faces re-testing within the next three weeks after being reported twice by umpires in recent weeks.

Holmes, a 21-year-old Loughborough University student, was reported by umpires George Sharp and Peter Willey after Warwickshire’s Clydesdale Bank 40 match against Leicestershire on May 1 and again by Bill Taylor, a member of the ECB reserve list, after a Second XI Trophy match against Nottinghamshire at Lady Bay on June 13.

Former Warwickshire batsman Andy Moles dubbed Holmes the ‘English Murali’ when he used the off-spinner to prepare New Zealand’s batsmen for facing Muttiah Muralitharan, the former Sri Lanka off-spinner, during his stint as their national coach in 2009.

Moles recommended Holmes to his former county two years ago but Warwickshire had to delay signing him for 12 months after he was forced to remodel his action when it failed to pass muster with the ECB.

Holmes, like Muralitharan, has flexible joints which allowed him to survive being knocked down by a drunk driver in Loughborough last year with no more than a groin injury. His flexibility also allows Holmes to bowl the ‘doosra’, the controversial off-spinner’s equivalent of the googly.

As Holmes’s action has now been reported twice in 12 months he faces the prospect of having his action re-tested by the ECB if the umpires confirm their original reports.

Under ECB procedures, testing must take place by an independent analyst within 21 days of Warwickshire receiving the second report. He can continue playing for Warwickshire until a decision is made on the legality of his action.

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