The International Cricket Council announced that it had agreed to relax its rules on suspect bowling actions, giving a big reprieve to a number of bowlers world over including India's Harbhajan Singh.
The ICC said it had adopted a recommendation allowing bowlers to straighten their arms by up to 15 degrees after the ICC chief executives' committee approved proposals by an expert panel chaired by cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar.
According to the earlier rule, fast bowlers could straighten their arm by 10 degrees and spinners were allowed five degrees.
The new rule, which would come into effect from March 1, would mean that most of the bowlers currently in the suspect action list, would benefit from it immensely. Although the ICC said, no bowler, who is currently being scrutinised under the old system, would be 'cleared' as a result of adoption of the recommendations by the committee, this will have little practical effect given the current playing commitments for these players.
ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said the new rule was a "sensible way forward" but he had no doubt that there would be some voices of dissent again this time. "This issue has afflicted the game for over sixty years. Try as it might, the sport has never properly come to terms with it," Speed said in a statement.
"Every time it comes up there are emotional reactions from people around the world based on fear and ignorance and I've no doubt we will see them all again this time."
"The reality is that this new process provides the game with a sensible way forward to properly protect against people breaking the rules while providing every opportunity for players with illegal actions to remedy any problems and return to the game," Speed said.
The decision, taken at the two-day ICC CEO's meeting which concluded in Melbourne today, will also see changes in testing, analysis and review procedures used at international level to standardise and streamline the analysis of bowlers with suspect illegal actions as well as an increased commitment to dealing with the issues at the junior international level.
The ICC had ordered a review last year of its laws on throwing after a spate of cases in recent times.
The panel, comprising Aravinda de Silva, Angus Fraser, Michael Holding, Tony Lewis, Tim May and David Richardson, recommended revised degrees of flexing of arms after they found flaws in actions of most of the bowlers after a research.
Gavaskar, who headed the committee, said the new procedures had been brought forward by people who had played the game at the highest level.
"These recommendations have come from people who have played the game at the highest level and who have a deep appreciation of the issues," he said.
"While the scientific evidence presented made the case for changing the current bowling review process compelling, it is a cricketing decision, proposed by cricketers for cricketers.
"The changes should make the process quicker and fairer to all players and will promote consistency in the way in which reported bowlers' actions are dealt with," he said.