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There are several types of throws in cricket. Usually, the leading players own almost everything. Bouncer execution is a high-class indicator. Fast bowlers usually make this throw. After bowling, the projectile bounces off the ground once and lands at the level of the batsman’s head.

Bouncer: the basic meaning

The bouncer should not be confused with a beamer, which is currently banned. The difference between these throws is that with a bouncer, the ball bounces off the ground. The execution of throws in cricket is allowed in two cases:

  • If the ball bounces off the field when aiming at the body.
  • After the throw, the ball is below the batsman‘s belt.

In other cases, throwing players risk that their throws will be recognized as illegal. Bouncers are often used if you want to throw the batsman “on the back foot“. This slang expression suggests that previously the batsman successfully performed strokes from the front foot (for example, drives). At the same time, a bouncer option is available for the batsman to play both as a defender and attacker. In defense, a batsman usually has two goals:

  • First of all, you need to avoid getting out.
  • The second step is to avoid being hit by the ball.

Experts believe that it is best to take your head to the side when performing bouncer, thus dodging the ball. Sometimes, batsmen see that the ball is flying at chest level and try to block it by sending it down the field. Thus, they protect the projectile from field players. To do this, it is necessary to transfer the weight to the back leg, raise the bat in an upright position to chest level and hit the ball. Sometimes cricketers have to jump up to catch the ball. Bowlers often hope that the bouncer will confuse batsmen.

There are cases when bouncer execution turns out to be useful for the batsman. The kick that the kicking players perform in such a situation is called a hook shot. To make such a blow, you need to stand in the off side and move the back foot backward. When the batsman sees that the bowler has completed the throw, he needs to move to the back foot, keeping the bat horizontal. The kicking player aims to hit into or over the leg side boundary. When performing each element of this technique, you need to be very careful since any incorrect movements can lead to the fall of the gate.

Bouncer: the rules

In the rules of the Laws of Cricket, there are prescribed settings regarding the bouncer’s actions. They indicate how many field players can be backward of square leg and how many times the bowler has the opportunity to make a bouncer.

In 1991, the International Cricket Council regulated the conditions for the bouncer game. So, the rules stated that “one bouncer per batsman per over”. The decision turned out to be due to the fact that in the 70s and 80s of the 20th century, teams often used this technique to intimidate the opponent. Especially everyone remembered the matches with the participation of the West Indies national team. For the first time, such tactics were used by England in a series against Australia in 1932/33. The Australians criticized body shots; they called them Bodyline. This influenced the addition of additional items to the rules.

Not all players and referees liked the decision made in 1991. The English umpire Dickie Bird stated that the umpires should regulate the bouncer themselves. The criticism has borne fruit. Already in 1994, it was allowed to use two bouncers during one over. At the same time, the player now received a penalty in two-run no-ball (previously one-run no-ball).

Given the speed of the game, separate bouncer rules have existed for a long time in the One Day International format:

  • Since 2001, only one bouncer has been allowed to be used per over, and one-run no-ball is provided for violation of the rules.
  • Since 2012, the International Cricket Council has allowed the use of two bouncers.

Bouncer: injuries and deaths

There have been several cases where bouncer execution has caused damage to players, but they have returned to the game angrier:

  • Fast bowler from England Frank Tyson actively used bouncer against Ray Lindwall from Australia in 1954. The opponent didn’t like it very much. When it was his turn to throw, he sent the ball so hard that Tyson had to be provided medical care in the hospital. A day later, Frank returned to the game and helped his team win.
  • In 1994, Fanie de Villiers from South Africa sent a bouncer against Devon Malcolm, representing the West Indies national team. The throw hit the opponent in the head. However, Fanie quickly returned to the game and scored nine wickets and 57 runs.

Unfortunately, there are episodes in the history of cricket when cricketers received more serious injuries after performing bouncer:

  • In 1962, Nari Contractor from India suffered. Charlie Griffith from the West Indies very unsuccessfully sent the ball into him. The contractor was rushed to the hospital, where he was unconscious for nine days. Only nine months later, the cricketer was able to recover and return to cricket.
  • In the 2006 season, Indian Makhaya Ntini dealt a heavy blow to Australian Justin Langer, after which the victim was hospitalized.
  • In 2008, Australian Brett Lee knocked out West Indian player Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The player returned to the field an hour later.
  • In 2014, after throwing Australian Sean Abbott, his compatriot Phillip Hughes lost consciousness. Unfortunately, the blow fell in the area between the grille and the shell of his helmet. Hughes suffered a brain hemorrhage and died two days later in hospital.
  • In the semifinal match of the 2019 World Cup, Jofra Archer from England struck a bouncer against Australian Alex Carey. As a result of the throw, the opponent’s helmet was knocked down, but Carey skillfully reacted to the situation and did not get injured.
  • A few months later, in The Ashes series, Jofra Archer made a dangerous throw towards Steve Smith. The opponent was out of the game for 45 minutes. After a pause, the coaches returned him to the field, despite the concussion (it turned out after the match). The decision was criticized by brain injury charity Headway.

After the cases in 2019, the International Cricket Council is again thinking about changing the rules regarding the bouncer.

Nisha Bhavani
Author: Nisha Bhavani Position: Cricket Expert
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