OPINION: As a former fast bowler I was appalled and outraged at what I witnessed during the tea break on the second day of the fourth Ashes cricket test at the MCG when former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee faced off British media host Piers Morgan in the nets.
I am so incensed I felt I needed to make comment.
While there were media jibes and a build-up to this bowling and batting contest on Friday, I could not believe my eyes - Lee's brutal assault on Morgan was extremely dangerous and unnecessary.
It was clear that Morgan could not bat or defend himself against Lee's pace and intimidation - this was an unfair and one-sided contest that could have had severe consequences. Sadly, in the past batsmen have died from receiving blows to the body.
I only hope that Brett takes a few minutes to reflect on his stupidity - this was a brain explosion of the highest order - it was a deliberate attempt to hit, injure, hurt and maim his opponent that I viewed as a form of grievous bodily harm or a human assault that could have proved fatal. Morgan, aged 48, was hit four times on the body and if he was hit on the head or across the heart the result could have been devastating.
Lee bowled only one ball at the wickets, and the other five were directed at the batman's middle to upper body and head.
Morgan had only 0.4 of a second to react and play a shot or try and defend himself against a hard, 156-gram flying missile hurled down at him from 20.12 metres at 140kmh - believe me this is not an experience the common man or players wants to endure.
I have always admired Lee as a person and as a quality fast bowler but yesterday his bowling exhibition damaged his reputation and credibility - in fact I believe he has brought the game of cricket into disrepute.
If an umpire had been standing or controlling the encounter, Lee would not have been allowed to complete the six-ball over such was his brutal assault on Morgan - he would have been removed from the crease for persistent intimidating bowling.
The ICC has an edict of fair play and upholding the spirit of the game, but that exhibition compromised those values.
I only hope that officialdom will review the incident and if necessary take some action against Lee's behaviour - perhaps a censure, fine or even a suspension for his act of stupidity and misjudgment.
Lee will have to accept there are no words than can be used to justify his decision-making and how he executed that six-ball over - it was beyond comprehension.
Given the same situation, if I wanted to embarrass Morgan for tweet jibes I would have taken more pleasure out of trying to hit the stumps six times than deliberately trying to hit him.
I believe Lee has erred badly and on reflection may realise that he has damaged the image of the game of cricket. There will be many mums and dads around the world who saw that exhibition and may decide to stop their kids from playing the game, such was the brutality and the risk to someone's life.
This should not have been shown on live television - people could have witnessed a tragic accident that the game of cricket never wants to see. Some people may have viewed this as fun and entertainment but it was not cricket - that sort of bowling against an inexperienced opponent was unacceptable.
To me there is no skill as a fast bowler to run in from 20 metres and bowl the ball halfway down the pitch, directing the ball at the batsman's body - especially when he is backing away to protect himself.
In fact I would suggest former players Mark Nicholas, Shane Warne and Michael Vaughan, who compered the exhibition, would not have enjoyed or even handled the way Lee bowled to Morgan - with all the batting experience they have had, I am sure they would not have placed themselves in that situation.
Perhaps Morgan needs to ponder whether he should have accepted the invitation to face off - he certainly has the battle scars and body blows to prove that this was "bodyline" bowling at its best, or should I say worst.
Whatever people may think, I can guarantee that most cricketers (if not all) who have played the game at the highest level would say that Lee's actions were dangerous and very wrong.
Fast bowler Sir Richard Hadlee played 86 tests for New Zealand, taking 431 wickets and scoring 3124 runs. He is recognised as NZ's greatest cricketer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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