Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cricket Bouncers

A couple of days ago, an Australian Cricketer who had been hit on the head by a fast bowl died of his injuries. The commentators are saying it was a freak accident, and that “bouncers” are an integral part of the game, so cricket does not need to change. This is nonsense.

Many sports have an element of danger, and the risks are accepted. But cricket is the only game where a bowler is expected to pitch a hard ball at more than 150 kilometers per hour directly at the head of the batsmen. This practice has no place in a civilised sport.

Cricket is supposed to be a game of skill. Bowlers bowl bouncers purposely to intimidate the batsman and make him fearful, so he will make a mistake with either against the bouncer or a subsequent bowl. The aim is to nullify the skill of the batsmen.

I notice that when thuggishness comes into a sport, it always favours those with less skill. The origins of the bouncer go back to the bodyline bowling, which was first used by the English team against Australia in 1932. They came up with the idea of bowling directly at the batsman’s body to nullify the skills of Donald Bradman. He was the probably the most skilful cricket batsman who has ever played the game, but the English captain believed that Bradman was afraid to stand his ground against intimidatory bowling. The umpires let the English bowlers away with it, so Bradsman's body was battered and burised, as thuggishness tried to overcome skill.

The bouncer is the descendent of the bodyline bowl. It is intimidation, not skill. It has no place in a serious game of skill. The death of Philip Hughes should make this obvious.

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