The news that Maia Bouchier has been suspended from bowling for an illegal action is a devastating blow for a player who opened the batting and the bowling for Hampshire in the final season of the County Championship last summer. Although she didn’t bowl much in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, and had a good season coming in at 3 for the Southern Vipers, scoring 214 runs at an average of 31, her future England claims were considerably bolstered by her allrounder status, which now looks to be in jeopardy unless she can make a substantial correction to her action.
The ECB’s official press release accompanying the announcement reads somewhat sternly:
“The 21-year-old has been advised to undergo remedial work on her bowing action before requesting a re-assessment. Bouchier will remain ineligible to bowl in ECB competitions until she is able to pass an independent re-assessment of her bowling action.”
This puts all the responsibility on the player, but the truth is more concerning. This hasn’t come out of nowhere – Bouchier didn’t wander in to a dressing room in 2020 having spent 21 years in the desert! She’s been on the county scene since she was 14, and has been part of the England Academy setup for over five years, so the real question is how on earth did things get to this stage?
Were her coaches not aware that there was an issue? Did it not occur to someone in the Academy at Loughborough, with all that money and technology at their disposal, that there was potentially a problem which needed fixing years ago?
What’s the point in investing tens of thousands of pounds in a player’s future, as England’s Academy programme has in Bouchier over the years, if they can’t spot and remediate a technical issue like this well before it gets anywhere near an independent assessment panel?
In the space of less than a month, Maia Bouchier has seen the highs and lows of being a professional athlete – from seeing her name in lights in the RHF Trophy, to seeing her name in headlines that read like a rap sheet.
But Maia Bouchier hasn’t failed – the system has failed her, and it needs to take a long hard look at itself while it undergoes remedial work before requesting reassessment.