Even as the Ashes has warmed up despite the inclement weather at Lord’s, there has been a heated debate about putting clamps on bowlers and limiting their ability to generate pace and ferocity. This unexpected argument has been brought on by the huge upsurge in Jofra Archer’s market value, an unexpected weaponry in England’s armoury that has disturbed the so-called ‘balance’.

For long, the game has been considered the bane of fast bowlers. For all of their back-breaking toil, the bowlers have for long been at the receiving end of a raw deal. An understated fact, it is little wonder that few cricketers, as children, rarely explored the art of bowling, preferring to be the batsman in their backyard. There would always be an abundance of kids lined up to bat and few willing takers for the ball. If anything, even the latest formats such as Twenty20 have only perpetuated that imbalance further.

Fortunately while international cricket does not quite have such an alarmingly skewed number as far as bowlers are concerned, it is credit to the bowlers who, after being soullessly pulverized in the Twenty20 game’s early days, came up with game plans that made Twenty20 slightly more palatable for those looking for a better balance between bat and ball.

Archer’s unsettling, deceptive pace and ability to make the short pitched, rising ball disconcert the batsman has suddenly raised the alarm value amongst cricket fraternities, particularly in Australia’s quarters. While Archer’s deliveries have indeed caused more than one batsman in the Australian line up to lose their balance off their feet and have suddenly amped up the discussion around concussions, there is, also, another angle wherein consensus is rife that Australia have forgotten their own lethal weapons with the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee on song and been comfortable to push for control on the bowlers while using their own well.

Furthermore, former cricketers are rightfully aggrieved that they played in far more dangerous conditions of the 70’s and 80’s at the height of the West Indies dominance without the protection of technology of visors for helmets were not around. While there is no doubt that not using injury prevention protocol is foolhardy in the age of evolution of technology, there must be consideration given for the fact that the game has been skewed in the favour of batsman for a long time and it could be argued that Archer’s pace and lethal ability has injected new life into the game.

While it does not mean slackening rules to allow room for life threatening injuries, the idea that bowlers must be clamped down from bowling beyond a certain pace or having the number of bouncers limited which has already been the case seems like taking matters a little too far in the other direction. At a time when the bats of the batsmen have grown significantly heavier, broader as well as lethal – some of the shots can be politely called unconventional which put the umpires and fielders at significant risk, it seems that one bowler’s potent is being considered too diabolical for the game while conveniently forgetting when the shoe is on the other foot.

As Archer showed at Headingley, his bowling could be just as lethal, adaptive to the pitch (bowling at back of a length after cutting the bowler’s crease halfway in Leeds) and effective to pick up six Australian wickets in the first innings without causing any concussions. Time for the discussion to move on.

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