Cricket: Warren Lees says short-pitched bowling has gone too far

Mitchell McClenaghan falls to the ground after being hit in the eye. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Mitchell McClenaghan falls to the ground after being hit in the eye. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Former New Zealand coach Warren Lees has called for changes around short-pitched bowling and says umpires need to get tougher.

Short-pitched bowling has come under the spotlight after the test between the Black Caps and Bangladesh in Wellington this week when a player was stretchered off the field and both sides were guilty of overs of short-pitched bowling.

Lees said short- pitched bowling was part of the game and had always been so but it had gone too far.

''It is not just because the batsman was carted off to hospital. It has been concerning me for some time,'' Lees said.

''It is a dangerous thing. What happens when a fast bowler goes up against a fast bowler and someone gets really hurt? Then they'll be trouble.

''To me a lot of it comes down to frustration. The bowlers who aren't particularly quick can't get them out so they get into short-pitched bowling. There are three stumps in the ground - aim for them.''

Lees said all the short-pitched bowling was doing was dragging the game out as a majority of the balls did not get wickets.

''They might bowl three in a row. One will be way over the batsmen, another will just be down leg and the other one the batsman will try to ungainly hook it. It just draws the game out.

''The umpires are a wee bit lenient. The guy at square leg has to be more switched on. It is sort of getting out of control.''

Rules state only two bouncers an over are allowed but this was at the head while many of the short-pitched balls were aimed at the chest.

Lees, a former national team wicketkeeper, said it did not take a lot of skill to bowl a bouncer. Bowlers simply had to pick the right line.

''They just have to throw the ball in short. I think it is just born out of frustration more than anything. The bowlers are frustrated they can't get them out so they revert to this.

''I don't see many of them being bowled to the top batsmen from South Africa, England and Australia. The good players just cash in.

''Very often they [bowlers] are not that quick so they need to bowl them a lot. And they tend to bowl them to players seven to 11 in the order or players from the B division of international cricket.''

Lees played in an era when by and large bouncers were not bowled to tail-end batsmen and it was more about getting players out.

''Ewen Chatfield did not get a lot of bouncers bowled at him. But that is because the bowlers wanted to get him out. They did not want to waste a ball with a bouncer.''

Chatfield almost died when he was hit by a bouncer from English bowler Peter Lever in 1975.

- Otago Daily Times

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