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With lives on the line, who would want to be a bowler?

Joe Mennie's injury suggests we need to reassess bat sizes. (Image: Naparazzi CC BY-SA 2.0)
Roar Pro
29th January, 2017
9

Cricket desperately needs a thorough review of rules, safety and equipment.

As research and technology development has exploded in virtually all sports, a gross imbalance between bat and ball has come about in cricket.

Whereas the ball has basically not changed at all, other than the various colours creating some small variations in swing and seam, the bat has seen dramatic change, resulting in an unfair dominance of bat over ball.

Put simply, who would want to be a bowler?

These amazingly meaty, thick-edged, but beautifully balanced bats enable players to smash the ball to and over the boundary line on a ridiculously regular basis. This is occurring with well played, well-timed shots, but too often also with those that are mistimed and mis-hit.

The ball is leaving these batting weapons at ridiculously high speeds. The result being not only many boundaries, but an ever-increasing risk to close-in fielders, bowlers and umpires.

Human reaction time, required to avoid being hit by these cricket balls, is not fast enough and thus players are in genuine danger of being seriously hurt or even killed.

The damage caused to bowler Joe Mennie, at practice, demonstrates as much. Mennie was struck on his, obviously, un-protected head by a speeding ball in his follow-through, resulting in a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.

Because of the bowling action of a bowler following through after delivery, particularly a fast bowler, they are very close to the batsman when the ball is struck and therefore in a very risky position.

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Little can be done to adjust the position of the bowler, therefore reduction of bat power is the only alternative.

Added to the imbalance of bat over ball are also the rule changes, particularly associated with the short versions of the game. A baseball-like ‘pitching zone’ has been introduced, where the ball cannot go down the leg-side, can’t be bowled too wide of the off-stump, can’t be bowled as a full-toss over either waist or shoulder height (depending on the type of bowler), or bounced too often.

It’s not all one-way traffic though. With the introduction of more protective equipment for batsmen, there has been an increase in batsmen being struck, chiefly brought about by poor technique to short-pitched bowling as a result of over confidence of the effectiveness of the protective gear. Evidence suggests that confidence is not warranted, and that concussion will result, even when struck on the helmet.

Cricket Australia needs to urgently look at the rules, equipment and overall safety of the game.

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