Could bouncers to tailenders be a thing of the past?

As part of the consultative process, starting in March with a final proposal to be discussed in December, the MCC will consider whether “lower-order batsmen should be given further protection than the Laws currently allow” but did not elaborate.

Whether this would lead to more stringent measures being implemented or a stricter enforcement of current laws is unclear.

Umpires already have the power to ban fast bowlers for dangerous short-pitched bowling at tailenders, with laws taking into consideration the skill of the batter and the likelihood of physical injury being inflicted.

As it stands, a bowler can be called for a no-ball on the first instance of dangerous bowling with a final warning to be called on the second occasion. If there is a third transgression, the bowler is taken out of the attack for the rest of that innings.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell this season called for umpires to enforce this rule.

Even if they were used, the laws would not have offered much protection to India paceman Mohammed Shami as the bouncer from Pat Cummins which broke his arm was the second ball he faced from the Australian quick.

“The committee discussed the Law and were unanimous that short-pitched bowling is a core part of the game, particularly at the elite level,” the MCC said in a statement.

“There was also discussion on other aspects of the game at all levels which may mitigate the risk of injury.”

Tailenders, such as Harry Conway, may get more protection from bouncers under the MCC’s review of short-pitched bowling. Conway was concussed after being struck by a bouncer while playing for Australia A in December.Credit:Getty

Respondents will be asked to consider the “balance between bat and ball”, with many former Test players saying the banning of the bouncer would fundamentally change the game.

“With research into concussion in sport having increased significantly in recent years, it is appropriate that MCC continues to monitor the Laws on short-pitched bowling, as it does with all other Laws,” the MCC said.

There is increased pressure on cricket to get rid of the bouncer, with one head-injury specialist saying it should be outlawed at youth levels, while Auckland Cricket has banned the delivery from some grades it administers.

“Does cricket really require intimidation to make it interesting?” Michael Turner, the medical director and chief executive of the International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation, told Reuters this month.

“I do not believe that it should be allowed in matches involving players under 18.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan slammed the idea, describing it as a “ridiculous suggestion” as it would not prepare players for the top level.


His comments echo those of former great Greg Chappell, who believes there should be more emphasis on teaching youngsters how to play the delivery rather than legislation.

If the laws are passed by the MCC, they would still need to go before the International Cricket Council for implementation at the top level.

Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald

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