For centuries cricket has been seen as the gentleman’s sport, a game in which people applaud each other's good performance, share stories over a cup of tea and a sport in which sledging, bad behaviour and over aggressiveness has always been frowned upon. People rarely get injured in cricket and they always leave the field with a smile on their face.
Yet the sport is much tougher and dangerous than many people perceive it to be. Take the danger aspect of the game.
Yes rugby players that weigh 18 stone try to break each other in two and yes footballers slide along the floor, then roll around holding a small cut for 5 minutes, but does any of that really compare to having 5 ½ ounces of leather coming for your head at 90 mph?
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Since the bodyline series of the 1932/33 Ashes in Australia - where England purposely bowling bouncers to intimidate batsmen - aggression has been widely accepted within cricket. Thankfully the batsmen that face these rockets are at the top of the game, so more often than not have the skill to nip and duck out the way and these days have helmets to project them.
Regardless this is still a very dangerous pastime, one need look no further than the tragic death of Phil Hughes, one of Australia’s most talented batsmen of the last decade caused by a bouncer from Sean Abbot.
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Moreover, on home soil, Craig Kieswetter, who was man of the match when England won the T20 World Cup has just retired from cricket because of a brutal injury to his eye caused by a vicious bouncer from David Willey.
Then there is the mental side of the game. Unlike other team sports cricket is very much an individual game and when an individual finds himself in a deep rut, it can do funny things to the brain. Look at the effect on Jonathan Trott, one of England’s most prolific batsmen of the past decade, simply couldn’t handle the pressures of being an international batsmen out of form and as a result will sadly never play international cricket again.
Marcus Trescothick on the other hand struggled with the time spent apart from his family and “the challenge of international cricket”.
More depressingly David Frith wrote that England cricketers ‘are almost twice as likely to commit suicide than the average male’, based on the fact that he found the suicide rate amongst English cricketers was 1.77% and 1.07% for British males in 2001 when his writings were published.
Quite clearly cricket can be a very dangerous game, on and off the field. A lot more has got to be said for the pressures and situations that cricketers face over their careers, and although you can’t knock the physicality of rugby, the miles that Steven Gerrard may cover and the continuous hacking to the leg that Lionel Messi receives, cricketers have every right to consider themselves hard as nails too.