The great old game of cricket is doing itself a massive disservice by allowing the bowlers with the bent arms to lead a new epidemic of wrong - and New Zealand is not exempt.
The Black Caps spinner in the second test against England, Kane Williamson, is a member of that curious band - the long-sleeved bowlers' association. Long sleeves obscure what might be judged as a dubious action, if anyone bothered to do the judging any more. But, led by the International Cricket Council and their disgraceful kowtowing to Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan, world cricket has become liberally fertilised with bowlers who, in a different age, would have been outlawed for "chucking" the ball.
This all came to mind with heavy irony watching England's second test domination of New Zealand - achieved by a spinner, Graeme Swann, who is unusual in that he actually bowls the ball. Williamson, on the other hand, has a crook in his arm on which you could hang your overcoat, tether your horse and arrange the washing.
We cannot say he is doing it deliberately. We cannot say he is cheating. Cricket has embraced this farce so thoroughly it rushes those with suspect actions, puts them through a biomechanical course and returns them to the arena, declaring they are now within the 15-degree legal limit by which a bowling arm can be flexed in delivery.
This achieves two things: 1) they are able to blind us with science so that authorities can say that a bowler has been through remedial therapy and is fit to play and 2) it tacitly encourages other spinners to play with a flex in their arm and a (long) sleeve on it - to avoid detection if, perchance, they stray beyond the allowable 15-degree flexion limit.
That never happens, surely. The very idea. And Pol Pot was a nice old duffer who enjoyed children and Angelina Jolie should have kept her breasts after a chorus of disapproval from middle-aged men who know stuff-all about cancer but who are disappointed at their absence.
The ICC changed the rules of cricket a few years back, basically for one man; they avoided having to write Muralitharan - the most prolific bowler in the history of the game - out of the record books. The little Sri Lankan offspinner had an arm, partially deformed from childhood, which he was allegedly unable to completely straighten when he delivered the ball. If a ball is delivered by flexing an arm from bent to straight, it is known as chucking and allows some bowlers to impart more pace or spin to their bowling.
For that reason, it is - or was - outlawed in cricket. Murali's critics say he played to his deformity, gaining extra penetration through his supposed disability.
The ICC's high-powered panel of experts did exhaustive research and maintained - in a fountain of convenience - that most of cricket's bowlers down the ages, even icons of the game, bowled with a chucker's action, at least to some degree. From this piece of quasi-scientific bollocks (imagine poisoning your own past to accommodate compromised principles of the present), came an allowable 15-degree flex for bowlers with their delivery arm.
Many bowlers now regularly exceed that. The doosra - the leg spinner delivered with an offspin action, invented by Pakistan's Saqlain Mushtaq and perfected by Murali - has become a huge weapon against batsmen because of a flexed arm that allows the bowler to give the ball its mysterious spin.
Look at any exponent of the doosra, including Murali, and tell me that their action when bowling that particular ball does not differ in the amount of flex.
This has all muddied the water so successfully that fans have accepted it, umpires do not seek to no-ball chuckers and the game has shifted on its axis, negating cricketing discipline and rules dating back to the 19th century.
There is an argument that the doosra and the lax guardianship of chucking has ushered in a new era for the gentle art of offspinning. Fair enough, but it's better if new champions best the old ones by actually playing the same game - not some hybrid invented to avoid embarrassment. A sport does evolve over the years, true, but changing the rules for one man is not evolution - it's genetically modified cricket. Bowlers with dodgy actions have sprung up like GM wheat - Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan), Sunil Narine (West Indies), Shane Shillingford (West Indies), Marlon Samuels (West Indies), Pragyan Ojha (India) and, yes, Williamson, to name a few.
Pointing out this stuff usually draws abuse, much of it from the subcontinent claiming some sort of racial slur. This and general apathy over time usually obscures any sharp focus on chucking, which is just what the ICC want.
This is not about the colour of the skin on the arm delivering the ball; it's about the way the ball is delivered by flexing the arm. It's a worry when a sport bastardises itself for political or PR reasons, especially so when it effectively spits on the achievements of the greats who helped make it great and who did so by staying within the rules.
It's not totally new - in 1999, 1950s West Indian spin ace Sonny Ramadhin revealed that he had cheated in his career; he chucked when he bowled his faster delivery but covered this up by wearing long sleeves. What's new is the amount of cover-up, literally and figuratively. The ICC may even wonder why there is not more cheering and applause for their efforts in finding a compromise.
It's like this, guys: It's hard to break a bottle of champagne on a turd.