The accident is fresh, the emotion is raw and the ensuing debate is still raging: what is the future of bouncers? At the ground zero, where it claimed a victim in Phillip Hughes, the argument seems to have drowned out in the ‘life goes on’ maxim.
Sampling a few incidents that followed over the last three days, the road ahead seems to be pretty straight from either side: both are set to play the game of hardball euphemistically concealing from it being called a bouncer.
India’s two-day match against Cricket Australia XI in Glenelg which ended in a draw, saw a barrage of bouncers unleashed by both sides. Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami led the Indian attack with bouncers to a side which didn’t even look half menacing.
Not the ones to hold back, the hosts too replied. Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli had to endure a spell of hostility from Evan Gulbis, Josh Lalor and Sam Rainbird with one even hitting Vijay on his helmet. Virat though kept swaying away. It didn’t end there as the ‘chin music’ kept flowing till the lower order.
“We are professional cricketers, we have to move on. Whatever has happened is bad and everyone was shocked. We have to look forward to what’s coming next for us,” said Ishant whose flurry of bouncers had set up a remarkable win in Lord’s earlier this year.
At a different place, the scene wasn’t any different. Recovering from the trauma as a team, Australia lined up their fast bowlers — Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris and Josh Hazelwood — who all bent their backs getting the ball to kick off from half the pitch on a centre wicket when they begin their first training session at Park 25 on Friday.
“It’s a case of getting back to what they do, and that’s playing cricket, normal Test cricket. Good, hard Test cricket like we always want to play as an Australian team. It’s the way we have always played and we have certainly had some success doing that. I can’t see why we would change,” said Lehmann.
Brad Haddin, a participant in the match involving Hughes, sounded rather conservative. “As I said before we are concentrating on the game. We enjoyed being back in training on Friday. It was good to be around. Don’t think you need to look too deep into what’s going to happen. We will get a game here on Tuesday. You’ll enjoy it and so will we,” said Haddin.
Suresh Raina though opened up to narrate the concern bouncers have evoked in the families. “Families are worried. They tell us you make sure you play carefully. Fans too are concerned. We all are entertainers. It’s a sport, people enjoy it, at end of the day when someone goes one should go happily, no one wants to hurt anyone,” said Raina.
From Tuesday, it is quite certain that a murmur will set off every time a bouncer is sent down regardless of the bravado or the soft corner the whole debate may have generated, but it is quite refreshing to see how both teams have got a grip on the subject and promised to play a game of hardball which includes the bouncers.