Do I not like that . . . Game that went west: David Frith, editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly, delivers a bouncer on the West Indians' brutal tactics

THE racially sensitive tend to eye with deep suspicion any criticism of West Indians bowling bouncers. Observers who have expressed disapproval of the four-pronged, day-long, shortpitched fast bowling over the past decade or two have had to duck a few sharp rejoinders, some laced with post-imperial venom, one or two even on solicitors' letterheads.

You can't take it, man. Admit it: you'd do the same if you had the means. What about Larwood and Voce? What about Lindwall and Miller, or Lillee and Thomson?

But what about the game of cricket?

The man whose brainchild it was, Clive Lloyd, changed the shape and the flavour of West Indian cricket by his strategy of mass bombardment. Winning was now everything. The attractive smile of the Caribbean cricketer turned to a severe grimace. A few dozen opposing batsmen finished in hospital. Her Majesty's government anointed Mr Lloyd with a CBE.

From Port of Spain, 1976, when India were brutalised into capitulation, through many a torrid session in the years between, to the recent harrying of Mike Atherton in the Jamaica Test match, soon followed by the sickening assault, delivered mostly from around the wicket, on the shortsighted and inept No 11 Devon Malcolm, the bursts of intimidation have been allowed by a succession of umpires who have steadfastly refrained from intervening. Their collective inaction has been explained away in a complexity of supposition: absence of either support or reassurance by the cricket authorities; or perhaps fear of physical reprisal by outraged fans; or maybe even the odd predilection for medium-range sado-masochism . . .

One of the few things that might be said for the tedious diet of short-pitched stuff is that true heroes may emerge from the more ferocious episodes: batsmen who survive for long periods by dint of patience, resolve and nerves of polyurethane. (Atherton's performance on the first day of the present Test is a case in point.)

The one-bouncer-per-over-per-batsman restriction was intended to curb the excesses, but while deliveries above shoulder-level were much reduced, the thumping tattoo on the rib-cage was, if anything, intensified. And now this regulation may be about to be shelved after a three-year experimental term (during which fast bowlers the world over squealed in protest).

It seems that a further revision to Law 42.8 may see the contentious reference to 'intimidation' removed. Whether this leads to cricket's equivalent of the lowering or the raising of the age of consent will be revealed in time. Suffice to say that no West Indian will ever be convinced that Law 42.8 is under review for any reason other than turning Ambrose, Walsh et al into eunuchs.

What d'you want us to do, man, bowl half-volleys all day? Well, not quite. But a return to the traditional skills of the fast bowler, backed by other kinds of delivery, would restore the variation which is fundamental to cricket's charm.

West Indies have kicked England's door down 25 times in 39 Tests since 1976. For much of that time, the on-drive and the cover-drive have been almost totally absent, and everybody has had to stay late because of the sluggish over rate.

West Indians remain peeved that their victories are not lauded by the opposition. And all because of the recurring barrages of vicious and somehow tiresome bouncers. There must be other ways to win, surely?

'Have West Indies abandoned the bouncer as their stock ball?' asked an intrepid and somewhat over-optimistic questioner (me, actually) of Vivian Richards after the Trent Bridge Test match of 1988, when his fast men had used the bouncer judiciously, almost sparingly, on a seaming pitch. The Great One's eyes blazed. 'Stock ball] Stock ball?' he roared. 'We got brains too, y'know]'

I'm sure he was right, though only by the grace of the Almighty have no opposing batsmen's brains - so far - been spilled on the pitch.

(Photograph omitted)

Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sport
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
tech
News
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
News
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik, 37, 2.59 meter (8,5 feet) tall, the world's tallest living man, waves as he poses for the media by the Chevrolet Tacuma car presented to him by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev on March 24, 2008.
newsPeasant farmer towered at almost 8'5'' - but shunned the limelight
News
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter
media
Life and Style
Could a robot sheepdog find itself working at Skipton Auction Mart?
techModel would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis