The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has confirmed, following due research, that there will be no ban on bouncers.
The short-pitched delivery will continue to be part of the game. However, the club has advised teams to remain vigilant as it advocates continuing the education of game personnel over potential ramifications.
The ICC currently allows up to two bouncers at head height in an over. Any delivery rising over the batter's head is declared a no-ball. Increasing cases of concussions and helmet strikes prompted the MCC to conduct an investigation in February 2021. An MCC spokesperson told Cricbuzz in this regard:
"The consultation reached out to many different stakeholders in the game. The data collected was then debated by various committees and sub-committees within the Club before the decision was reached."
After thorough research through surveys and the analysis of data, the MCC current rules provide enough assurance to batters, even ones who are not well-equipped to deal with the menacing delivery. Moreover, with no-balls and potential suspensions being handed for repeated offences, the MCC believes it has things in place against the bouncer overuse.
However, umpires have been encouraged to impose Law 41.6 if they feel any batters, especially tail-enders, are at risk against brute short-pitch bowling. In a statement, the MCC said:
"MCC can confirm that after extensive research in the area, the outcome is that there will not be a change in Law. However, the Club will continue to be vigilant on this matter and to educate players and officials on the risks of concussion, notably when remaining on the field after a head strike which could be concussive.
The MCC considered the stance of all stakeholders regarding the need for a potential rule change before coming to a conclusion.
MCC considering making changes to other aspects of the game
While the MCC decided not to ban bouncers from the game, they are mulling the need to revisit over some other aspects of the game.
They could reportedly delve into some of the finer aspects, namely the balance between bat and ball; whether or not concussion should be recognised as a different injury to any other; changes which are specific to particular sectors of the game like junior cricket; and whether or not lower-order batters should be given further protection than the Laws currently allow.
Assistant Secretary Jamie Cox said in this regard:
"As with any potential change in the laws, the key aspect is to ensure that it is appropriate for all levels of the game. The results of the consultation show that short-pitched bowling, within the Laws, is an important part of the makeup of the sport and in fact, to change it would materially change the game."
Short-pitched bowling, unfortunately, led to the unfortunate death of Phillip Hughes and a few more in domestic and junior cricket. Australia's Will Pucovski has been the victim of numerous concussions due to repeated blows to the helmet from bouncers.
This awareness has brought about the introduction of a concussion substitute. In such an event, a like-to-like replacement player from the bench can be brought on following the approval of match officials.