Cricket’s lawmakers MCC decide against banning bouncer after 18-month review into the sport’s rules

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Cricket’s lawmakers resist calls to outlaw the bouncer by deciding against banning it after an 18-month review… with the MCC to instead provide more education to players and coaches on concussion

  • The MCC, the guardians of cricket’s laws, have resisted outlawing the bouncer
  • They will carry on promoting education of players and officials about concussion
  • Bouncers have been key to some of the most exciting passages in Test history











The MCC, the guardians of cricket’s laws, have resisted outlawing the bouncer following 18 months of consultation.

Concluding that any changes to the current guidelines would alter the balance between bat and ball detrimentally, no laws were amended in relation to short-pitched bowling in the game.

Instead, MCC will continue to promote the education of players and officials when it comes to concussion.

Cricket lawmakers MCC have opted against outlawing the bouncer after an 18-month review

The quality of protective gear has also improved considerably following the death of Australian opening batter Phil Hughes (pictured left), who was struck by a short ball in 2014

The quality of protective gear has also improved considerably following the death of Australian opening batter Phil Hughes (pictured left), who was struck by a short ball in 2014

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Although such episodes are minimal compared to sports like the rugby codes, research showed strikes to the head have surged since the introduction of helmets, and so the safety aspects of short-pitched balls will continue to be monitored.

The laws currently permit short-pitched bowling up to head height. Anything above head height is a no ball.

Changes to certain aspects of cricket were considered – such as amending the laws at junior level or offering additional protection to less competent batters.

However, respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of children learning to play it in preparation for senior cricket. 

And umpires will continue to be able to call no-ball and remove bowlers from the attack in cases of repeat offences, to protect less-skilled tailenders under existing law 41.

Jamie Cox, MCC assistant secretary, said: ‘As with any potential change in the laws, the key aspect is to ensure that it is appropriate for all levels of the game.

‘The results of the consultation show that short-pitched bowling, within the laws, is an important part of the makeup of the sport and in fact, to change it would materially change the game.

Bouncers have been a feature of some of the most enthralling passages of play in Test history

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Bouncers have been a feature of some of the most enthralling passages of play in Test history

Australia talisman Steve Smith (bottom) had a superb battle with England fast bowler Jofra Archer (out of shot) during the 2019 Ashes which culminated in him being struck in the neck

Australia talisman Steve Smith (bottom) had a superb battle with England fast bowler Jofra Archer (out of shot) during the 2019 Ashes which culminated in him being struck in the neck

‘However, given that the laws allow for umpires to intervene should they believe that there is a safety consideration with the batter on strike, we encourage them to use their discretion and ensure that any risk of injury is minimised.’

Cricket has worked hard over recent years in its duty of care to players in this area, with compulsory checks following strikes to the head, decisions on whether it is safe to continue in such instances solely in the hands of medics, and concussion substitutes permitted in all professional matches under the jurisdiction of the ECB. 

Similar protocols are common across the world game.

The bouncer has always been a premier delivery in the fast bowler’s armoury, a weapon offering a sharp reminder should a batsman take the liberty of hopping onto the front foot, testing their ability to duck and weave and one offering a wicket-taking option against those confident to take on a hook off the back foot.

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It has long been an accepted as part of the game and at the very top level has been a feature of some of the most enthralling passages of play in Test history.

Those include England fast bowler Jofra Archer’s Ashes duel with Steve Smith at Lord’s in 2019 that led to Marnus Labuschagne becoming Test cricket’s first concussion substitute.

The quality of protective gear has also improved considerably, and players now uniformly wear neck protection too following the death of Australian Phil Hughes, who was struck by a short ball in 2014.

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