Should bouncers be banned to make cricket safer?
Should bouncers be banned to make cricket safer?
While cricketers all over the world call the death of Phil Hughes an accident that could happen in any sports, some experts are of the view that cricket is not worth dying for and that this incident should be taken as a wake-up call to ban bouncers. Sean Abbott cannot be blamed for the incident; he did what was a part of his variation throws. The incident not only killed Hughes but also killed a part of Abbott who is under constant trauma of the fact that a ball bowled by him has killed a person. Making cricket safer is indeed a necessity to avoid such incidences from happening in future but is banning bouncer the right thing to do?
Yes, bouncers should be banned:
1. Intimidation: Experts call bouncers an intimidating stuff which should be banned from cricket. This should have been done long back but it is never too late to introduce a reformatory measure for the safety of cricketers or any sportsperson. Instead of bouncers, fast bowlers could use pace, cut and swing to trap batsmen.
2. Bad aim: Bouncers are usually aimed at body parts of the batsmen along with head and neck which is dangerous despite safety gears and protection trainings against these balls. Bouncers are attacking in nature and it is high time that such aggressive strokes be banned from cricket.
3. Distracting: Unlike other shots where the batsmen can focus on the ball and accordingly decide the course of hit, a bouncer is either to be stopped with gloves ahead of his face or the batsman has to duck to survive the shot. These measures make it difficult for the batsmen to focus on the ball as doctors have pointed out in this case hence raising the chances of accidents such as this.
4. Toughness myth: Bouncers are considered the toughest of balls and batsmen showing the courage to play these balls are considered strong while those who would refuse are weaker. This is the reason why the Australian duo of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson and the West Indians of the 1970s-80s were allowed to bowl bouncers for the entire match with no protest against the targeting of batsmen’s bodies. Cricket writer David Frith states that at least 40 cricketers hit on their heads, arms, ribs and hands by the Windies pacers who had to be rushed to casualty and Viv Richards had to undergo psychiatric treatment.
5. Effecting minds: Safety of cricket has been put into question after this incident and parents of children wanting to pursue cricket as a career might find this disturbing. When an incident such as this happens, not just the victim but also the others in the team, specifically the one who delivered the ball goes through trauma. The huge crowd witnessing the match will also have sensitive people who might not be able to forget the incident even in life which might even make them quit watching their once favorite sports. Thrill in a game created by dangerous acts is absolutely unnecessary and has to be outlawed immediately.
No, bouncers should not be banned:
1. Rare: This incident was freakish and rare. There has hardly been an incident like this leading to the death of the cricketer. Raman Lamba, Mark Boucher, Alcwyn Jenkins, and many more are examples of rare accidents that occur and all these had different reasons behind them. Banning bouncers for this incident will call for banning many other shots that have proved to be injurious in one or the other rare case of injury to batsmen and umpire.
2. Risks come in handy with sports: Compared to other sports like boxing and car racing, cricket is one of the safest games played internationally. Every cricketer signs up for the risks involved like getting injured. We simply cannot ban the shot because of the incident involving it. This would be like banning bikes and cars because road accidents happen because of their involvement.
3. Gears need change: Questioning the safety of cricket, heads gears need to be changed. According to reports, Hughes was wearing the older version of the helmets of last year while the new helmets of 2014 used mostly by all Indian batsmen offers better coverage to neck area where he was hit. Reason why most players chose to wear the older helmet is the flexibility of vision that it offers. Either safety is compromised or performance is. At the pressure of performing exceedingly well, players ignore the safety factor. Instead of banning bouncers, cricket association of the world could make standardization of the well protected helmet for everyone.
4. Views of the players: Instead of making this discussion a public issue, the cricketers all over the world must be asked their opinion on this matter and accordingly amendments, if necessary, could be made. We have heard crickets being interviewed and they all seem to be of the view that bouncers should not be banned as this would mean crippling the fast bowlers. If they collectively have no issues with this, why should the other have a say in this?
5. It is evident that cricket is more biased towards batsmen. Banning bouncers will worsen this status wherein bowlers will be disheartened. Furthermore, batsmen are trained to handle these shots and cases such as this are exceedingly rare and hence should not be used to outlaw bouncers.
Instead of banning bouncers, there could be other safety measures that could prevent such incidents. Making helmets safer and standardized for all nations could be one such measure. Umpires could play a stricter role in stopping a bowler against aggressive shots aimed in wrong directions if repeated. This is a time to offer condolence to Phil Hughes’ family and to encourage Sean Abbott to make a comeback and make changes in the game based on an extremely rare accident.
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