From the Grandstand by Col Hennessy
Well, here we are in the midst of another cricket season and already I have heard this issue discussed (as it is most years). I asked a few people in the grandstand for their opinion and as usual it is divided.
Actually, there are not too many of us here at the moment. Only the ‘gnome’ and I in fact. We call him that because he is so short but hey, it suits us when the Covid regulations keep stressing the 1.5 maximum number allowed or have I missed something.
Late last year the respected journalist Malcolm Knox when writing in the SMH said that it needs to be banned. He said, ‘while it may hurt cricket to lose the bouncer, the bouncer is hurting cricket more’. I don’t agree and most people seem to share that opinion. Now it is regulated to just a maximum of two per over it seems to work fine.
Of course, Knox was writing this at the time that the current new whiz-kid Will Pukovski was ruled out of the first cricket test against India due to concussion issues following a blow to his helmet in an earlier game.
People need to remember that young Wil may have a concussion issue (nine times in fact) but that has come about not just from the bouncer but playing football, colliding in the outfield, and even running between wickets.
Mike Atherton is another cricket writer whose opinion I respect. While writing in the London Times he suggested that it is the batsmen and their poor technique that is the real issue. Since helmets have become the norm., batsmen seem to become more nonchalant while taking their stance and don’t have the necessary respect for the short ball.
The bouncer itself if not delivered properly can be a source of easy runs to a good ‘hooker’. Witness the shots of Ricky Ponting in his heyday. How many of you can remember Doug Walters hitting Bob Willis for 6 on the last ball of the day to bring up his century. It was pure theatre at Perth in an Ashes series.
No, I believe the rules should stay as they are. Generally, most things favour the batsmen more that the bowlers who have to slog it our for more than six hours a day on pitches that are made to last five days for economic reasons.
The current Australian pace attack certainly uses the bouncer and maybe it is overused against tailenders, but all sides do it and batsmen are becoming more astute when ducking under a dangerous delivery. Best to leave things as they are, I think.
Anyway, I’m off for a spot of backyard cricket with the gnome. I’m trying to perfect my underarm delivery so I can still bounce him.