Hadlee is lone voice of reason amid pack of laughing hyenas
Good on Sir Richard Hadlee for having a go at the idiotic behaviour of Brett Lee the other day.
Sadly there seems to be plenty of halfwits out there willing to back Lee. The Australian speedster bowled six deliveries to 48-year-old British TV host Piers Morgan and engaged in what Hadlee has termed "a brutal assault" that was "extremely dangerous and unnecessary".
I watched Lee's bowling in horror and tweeted my displeasure. The tenor of some replies was that Morgan got what was coming to him.
Morgan sparked off the incident when he described the England team's performance as pathetic during the Ashes series and, tongue in cheek I felt, said he wouldn't mind facing Mitchell Johnson. One thing led to another and suddenly there was Morgan, a rotund middle-aged man, standing 20 metres away from one of the fastest bowlers in the world in a net in Melbourne, attempting to live up to his end of a dare.
Lee had the chance to have a little fun with Morgan but instead deliberately targeted him, even when the batsman backed away several metres.
Morgan was hit four times and it was only good fortune that none of the blows maimed him, or worse.
I admired Morgan's pluck in stepping into the nets in the first place. At that point it was a bit of light-hearted entertainment that had played out well.
Lee then totally misread the situation. Instead of having a little fun at Morgan's expense, he tried to hit him.
It was shameful. Such bowling would never have been permitted in a genuine match.
What made it worse was that Mark Nicholas, Shane Warne and Michael Vaughan, three experienced cricketers now in the commentary box, stood there throughout grinning and encouraging him.
There were also hundreds of spectators roaring with laughter.
What did Lee prove? That a 48-year-old who had never played at any level above village cricket was no match for him. Well done to the Australian on that score.
In 1932-33 Harold Larwood, Bill Voce and company engaged in the infamous Bodyline Ashes series at the direction of their skipper, Douglas Jardine. They bowled short to a leg-side field and all the leading Australian batsmen were hit, some many times.
The tactics were so repulsive that form of cricket was outlawed.
There have been hostile fast bowlers since, including Ray Lindwall, Frank Tyson, Jeff Thomson, Dennis Lillee, any number of West Indians, Allan Donald and Shoaib Akhtar.
I suggest none has ever set out as obviously to hit a batsman as Lee did.
At times Morgan had backed so far away he was into the netting behind him. And still the ball was aimed at him. Only once in six deliveries did Lee pitch a ball up and aim straight and, not surprisingly, he hit the stumps.
The rest of the time he indulged in the sort of thuggery that could have resulted in a death.
I wonder how he and the three laughing hyenas encouraging him would have felt then.
Until Hadlee came in off his long run, I was amazed at the muted reaction to Lee's actions.
It is good to know there is still some sanity out there in Cricketland.
The Marlborough Express