ICC World Cup: Thicker bats make Brad Hogg fear for bowlers' lives
Perth: Australia set a new record score (417/6) in World Cup cricket history yesterday as they hit the Afghanistan bowlers all across the WACA. The total also formed the record of most number of 300-plus scores in a single World Cup, equalling the record in the 2011 edition of the tournament and bettering the 2007 mark by one.
The growing disparity between bat and ball is more than ever, and former Australia spinner Brad Hogg, who watched yesterday's action from the ABC radio commentary box at the WACA, said he now fears for the lives of bowlers.
"What happened to Phil (Hughes) was very, very sad and shocking. But honestly, I thought something like that would first happen to a bowler," Hogg told mid-day at the WACA (Western Australian Cricket Association).
He was referring to the unfortunate death of former Australian opener Phil Hughes, who passed away on November 27 last year, two days after being hit on the head by a delivery from pacer Sean Abbott during a Sheffield Shield game at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Hogg, who hails from Western Australia and played all his club cricket here, said it's a sea change for him to see the bat dominate the ball even at a place like the WACA, which is considered to be the fastest track in the world. Australia hammered 36 fours and 14 sixes against the Afghans yesterday.
Hogg (43) blamed the obnoxiously changing nature of bats for the uneven match between bowlers and batsmen nowadays. "Bat technology has to be controlled right where it is now. Thicker bats and fatter sweet-spots are making some of the balls hit back to bowlers very dangerous."
Spinners at risk
The two-time World Cup winner, who bowls left-arm chinaman, said the trend particularly puts the lives of spinners at risk. "As a spinner, now the worry is not so much about being hit out of the park, but instead about being hit in your own follow through.
Sometimes, if you're bowling to a (Kieron) Pollard or a (Chris) Gayle and if they don't get their shot straight above you, if they hit it incorrectly, the ball could come straight back at you. And it's not just the Pollards or Gayles, I got hit by Hobart Hurricanes' Michael Hill over a month back and that still stings my hand.
Bowlers can't wear helmets, so it's up to the authorities to look after the well-being of spinners," said Hogg, who took 13 and 21 wickets respectively in Australia's 2003 and 2007 World Cup-winning campaigns.
Now a Twenty20 specialist, Hogg said the trend was bad for the future of the game too. "Mis-hits going for six are unfair. Cricket is a contest between bat and ball and let's ensure that contest is more evenly matched.
Otherwise, if batsmen always keep hitting sixes so easily, then in about 10 years from now, you will not have any quality spinners, because no one would want to be a spinner," added Hogg, who helped Perth Scorchers win Australia's premier domestic T20 competition, the Big Bash League, in 2013-14 and is currently excited about being picked by Kolkata Knight Riders to play in this year's Indian Premier League.