“Notwithstanding clause 41.6.2 [which permits two short-pitched deliveries passing above shoulder height per over], the bowling of short pitched deliveries is dangerous if the bowler’s end umpire considers that, taking into consideration the skill of the striker, by their speed, length, height and direction they are likely to inflict physical injury on him,” reads clause 41.6.1 in the ICC’s World Test Championship playing conditions.
“The fact that the striker is wearing protective equipment shall be disregarded.”
While one former umpire contacted by the Herald said it would be difficult for officials to assess which batters the law would be applicable to, Chappell said those adjudicating at international level had a “pretty fair idea” but conceded there were grey areas.
One medical expert was unsure if wider enforcement of the rule would result in fewer concussions, as many of those injured were specialist batsmen.
The world’s No.1 ranked Test batsman Steve Smith was diagnosed with concussion during last year’s Ashes, and one of Australia’s most promising young players, Will Pucovski, has been concussed nine times in his short career.
In defending the bouncer in a column for ESPNcricinfo, Chappell wrote that a worldwide review into the on-field safety of players should “strengthen any law regarding the protection of tailenders in facing short-pitched bowling”.
“If a guy looks like he’s pretty hopeless against them you’ve got to give him some protection,” Chappell elaborated to the Herald on Monday.
”The umpires have got to say ‘just bowl the guy out, don’t try to kill him’.”
“It’s not hard to see who’s in trouble when you’re facing the short stuff. Now the bowlers have got to be able to give them one – let them know, “Mate, if you’re going to hang around here you’ll cop it”.
“After that the umpires have got to say, “Just bowl the guy out, don’t try to kill him”.”
In Shami’s case, clause 41.6.1 would not have applied to Cummins, as bowlers are entitled to two warnings from the umpire before they are thrown out of the attack. The delivery that struck Shami was Cummins’ second to the Indian tailender.
Chappell, however, said it should have been enforced in Australia A game against India where No.11 Harry Conway was struck on the helmet by paceman Mohammed Siraj.
Siraj and fellow quick Navdeep Saini, in the previous over, had both delivered four short-pitched deliveries in the one over to Conway, who averages 7.78 after 40 first-class innings.
“He got bombarded a bit. I thought there was an excuse for the umpire to step in there and say “get him out not knock him out”,” Chappell said.
“Harry’s no star with the bat. Those are the guys who have to be helped out a bit.”
Former Test paceman Geoff Lawson, who suffered a broken jaw after being hit by a bouncer from Curtly Ambrose in 1988, wrote in a column for The Sun-Herald that Conway should have been protected.
“Cricket has unwritten rules when it comes to wearing a badge of courage, just as concussed or injured footballers have been lauded for playing on,” Lawson wrote.
“The sport’s written rule mentions bowling that is “intended or likely” to result in “physical injury”, taking into account “the relative skill of the striker”. Maybe it’s time to revisit a law that has been in the books for decades for good reason.”
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald