The changing face of cricket

It was during the 17th Century when English aristocrats started playing the fine sport that is cricket, and declared there and then, that it was to be played for gentlemen by gentlemen. There would be none of this sledging, cheating, excessive appealing or bodyline bowling nonsense.

Cricket was as much about taking part and playing the sport in the right spirit as it was winning. When a good shot was played, both teams would applaud, and when bails tumbled or catches were taken, rather than celebrating the fall of wicket, the batsman would be clapped off. It was all rather splendid.

Cricket truly is a sport like no other. In addition to the laws of the game, it’s imperative that one abides by the ‘Spirit of the Game’. For example, if a batsman knows he is out, he should ‘walk’ even if the umpire thinks otherwise. It’s sportsmanship acts like this, which coined the phrase ‘it’s just not cricket’ and is still used today when describing unfair behaviour. It makes you feel proud to be English, doesn’t it? But cricket has changed….

A gentleman’s game?

With increasing incidents of sledging, alleged cheating, match fixing and bodyline bowling, cricket is no longer deemed as ‘The Gentleman’s Game.’ The sport that was once played on village greens, and associated with urns of tea and cucumber sandwiches, is now an athletic, aggressive sport, where competitors will do all they can to win. In fact, it’s downright brutal. Check out some of these incidents and see for yourself:

1) During Zimbabwe’s ODI against Bangladesh in 2011, Zimbabwean Keegan Meth bowled a ball down to Nasir Hossain who smashed it back towards the bowler’s face. Unable to react in time, the ball crashed into Meth’s face, breaking two to three teeth and shattering his jaw. It remains one of the most horrific injuries in cricket.

2) New Zealand’s batsman, Daniel Flynn had his teeth knocked out by a vicious James Anderson bouncer. It was during the first day’s play at Old Trafford when it happened, which resulted in Flynn having to leave the field of play where he later had to have more teeth removed. If you watch the footage carefully, you can see the teeth fly from his mouth. Ouch!

3) The injury that every sportsman fears. It was during the 1991/92 test series where New Zealand played hosts to England. As the visitor’s fast bowler, David Lawrence came in to bowl; he landed awkwardly on his leg and shattered his kneecap. The snap of bone, which was likened to a pistol being shot, could be heard from the boundary line. Lawrence was stretchered off by his teammates, and although tried to make a comeback, retired from the sport at the age of 29.

4) Lastly, who could forget the clash between England fast bowler, James Anderson and Aussie captain, Michael Clarke? Towards the end of Day 4 of the 1st Ashes test in Australia, the pair came together in what was quite a heated exchange. Despite both teams playing down the incident, both players were reprimanded for the incident, and Michael Clarke was fined 20 per cent of his match fee. Watch the whole saga unfold here:

Stay safe on the pitch

Whilst cricket might not be the gentleman’s sport it once was, it remains a fantastic game that is fast paced and dynamic and involves strength, speed, power, tenacity and skill. But it’s also a game to be enjoyed by all, regardless of ability, sex and age. Up and down the country there are local cricket clubs that anyone can join. Most clubs have a colts section, as well as adult league cricket and friendly teams that tend to play on Sundays. Why not pop along and give it a go?

Just remember, cricket can be dangerous and cause some serious injury (as we’ve shown). That’s why if you play, coach or run a team, or are thinking of giving it a go, make sure you are adequately protected. Our policy ensures that whenever you step onto the cricket pitch, you and all your equipment are fully protected at all times.

Cricket Essentials

Are you thinking of giving cricket a go? Here’s a mini checklist that every cricketer needs to ensure they are fully prepared to bat, bowl and field.

– Cricket spikes: Here in the UK, we aren’t blessed with scorching hot summers. A good pair of cricket spikes will help keep grip when fielding, running into bowl and batting. Slipping over could easily result in pulled muscles, tears and strains.

– Cricket balls: You can’t become a bowler without a ball!

– Cricket bat: You can’t become a batsman without a bat!

– Helmet: Any amateur cricket under the age of 18 can’t play cricket without a helmet.

– Gloves, pads and thigh-pad: Cricket balls are hard and if they hit you, it will hurt. The role of gloves and pads is to protect you. Don’t forget a thigh-pad either. While they aren’t labelled as important as gloves and pads, they are a lifesaver should a ball jump up and whack you in the top of the leg. It’s a pain like no other – especially if the bowler is quick.

– A box: There are tales of batsman going out to the crease without a box on. The injuries are too severe to mention!

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