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Head and face injuries in cricket — Part 2 of 3

Mike Gatting's nose was smashed by a Malcolm Marshall bouncer © Getty Images
Mike Gatting’s nose was smashed by a Malcolm Marshall bouncer © Getty Images

There will be some who will maintain that cricket, being not a full body-contact sport, is not the most dangerous of all outdoor sport. Plenty of injuries — especially above the throat — across its chequered past have, on the contrary, made cricket more dangerous than it meets the eye; Abhishek Mukherjee lists a few in the second of this three-part series.

11) Derek Randall, MCG, 1976-77

If McCosker’s case was a heroic one, Randall’s was more of comical: as Randall almost single-handedly threatened to chase down 463 (he scored 174 in the process) he was at the receiving end of a Lillee bouncer barrage, one of which hit Randall on the head.

“No point hitting me there, there’s nothing in it,” came the prompt response. That was Randall for you.

12) Peter Toohey, Queen’s Park Oval, 1977-78

Following Kerry Packer’s “invasion”, Australia sent out a second-string team to West Indies, while West Indies retained their first team. The tourists were easy prey for Andy Roberts, Colin Croft, and Joel Garner, and were bowled out for 90 shortly after lunch.

Poor Toohey had walked out at ten for two, and was given a torrid time by Roberts and Croft. Having scored a single over what seemed like ages (Australia had lost two more wickets by then), Toohey tried to hook a Roberts bouncer (this was his famous “faster bouncer”; he had two of them). The crunching echoed throughout the field, and Viv Richards rushed quickly to hold Toohey before he fell to the ground.

The ball had hit Toohey on the forehead, just above the bridge of the nose and he was rendered unconscious. To Toohey’s credit, he walked out again after the fall of the eighth wicket, only to be hit by Roberts on the thumb. He still carried on, refusing to leave till Garner bowled him for 20.

13) Andy Lloyd, Edgbaston, 1984

Lloyd still remains the only batsman who has opened innings and has yet never been dismissed in Test cricket, and there is a valid reason for that. The Warwickshire opener had been drafted in for the first Test at Edgbaston, and to be fair to him, he displayed commendable resilience and concentration.

Then Malcolm Marshall ran in and unleashed a bouncer; Lloyd moved away, the ball hit him on the earpiece of the helmet, and Lloyd had to retire; he suffered from concussion and blurred vision for a few days, and never went back to Test cricket.

14) Bob Hawke, 1984

Bouncing your Prime Minister is something a lot of people must have wanted to do at some point of time, but Gary O’Neill (of Herald), playing for Pressmen against Parliamentarians, actually achieved that in 1984 by sending out a ripper to Hawke, the then Australian Prime Minister and breaking his spectacles as a result.

Glass fragments had to be removed from Hawke’s eye, and he resumed batting again (though Labour Party Secretary Bob McCullen injured while fielding and had to be carried off the ground). Hawke might have been 55 at that stage, but he was a quite competent cricketer, and was selected for an Oxford University Trial Match in 1954.

15) Mike Gatting, Sabina Park, 1985-86

Marshall always tormented batsmen all over the world, but somehow he always seemed more hostile against the Englishmen.

On this occasion Richards had ordered him to bowl the “perfume ball”, and Marshall obliged. Let alone Gatting, no batsman would have stood a chance against that.

It was a vicious bouncer, and the combative Gatting made the error of going for the hook rather than ducking under it. There was a crunching noise at the ball hit Gatting on his nose. As the Middlesex mainstay staggered to the ground, he heard the telltale sound of the ball hitting the stumps.

The extent of the injury became clear only when the ball returned to Marshall: a fragment of bone was still embedded in it.

Gatting was flown back for treatment; there were numerous cartoons depicting his then panda-like appearance; and a confused journalist asked him, “Where exactly did it hit you?” To his immense credit, Gatting flew back to join his team after a month. This time he got away with a broken thumb.

16) Sachin Tendulkar, Sialkot, 1989-90

Despite the ripples of sensation he had caused in the Indian domestic circuit, the 16-year old had not yet taken the world by storm on his maiden Test tour. India hung on by the scruff of their necks as they reached Sialkot, where they secured a lead for the first time in the series.

India led by 74, but some hostile bowling from Wasim Akram left them in tatters at 38 for four. Sachin Tendulkar walked out to join Navjot Sidhu, and was immediately hit on the nose by a steep bouncer from Waqar Younis — arguably the fastest among contemporary fast bowlers.

The physiotherapist rushed in as the youngster bled profusely; even Sidhu asked Tendulkar to leave; it was then that the mildest, the softest, yet the most determined of voices spoke back: “main khelega” (I will play).

And he played for 24 more years.

17) Meyrick Pringle, New Wanderers, 1992-93

Indian fast bowlers are not known for felling batsmen with bouncers, but Javagal Srinath’s pace was not easy to handle, especially in the early days of his career. Pringle tried to hook, but the lanky Srinath turned out to be fast for him: the ball made its way through the grille of his helmet.

Pringle had to be carried away in a stretcher. He did not play another Test in three years.


18) Ian Folley, Hensingham, 1993

Folley was a left-arm medium-pacer and spinner who did a competent job for Lancashire and Derbyshire. He was captaining Whitehaven against Workington in the North Lancashire League when a bouncer hit him just below his eye. He jogged off the field after the match.

Unfortunately, he had to be rushed to the hospital soon afterwards; he had to undergo a minor surgery for a perforated eyeball; but passed away when he was under anaesthesia.

19) Sultan Zarawani, Rawalpindi, 1996 World Cup

Sultan Zarawani was a ridiculously reach even by UAE standards, and was a not-too-bad cricketer either; he led UAE in all seven ODIs he played, and became one of the numerous bowlers whose first international wicket was Tendulkar. On that World Cup encounter, however, arrogance had got the better of him when he walked out to face Allan Donald in a sunhat.

If Donald was not sufficiently incensed, Pat Symcox did the trick with the words “Al, this guy’s asking for it.” Donald knocked the sunhat off the first ball he faced, but Zarawani stood up, and the helmet was not summoned during his seven-ball duck.

20) Devon Malcolm, The Oval, 1994

The error was Fanie de Villiers’: it was déjà vu of the Lindwall-Tyson incident. He hit Malcolm on his head with a bouncer.

Malcolm recovered to his feet and retorted with one of the most iconic lines in history: “You guys are history”. He had already forced Jonty Rhodes to retire hurt in the first innings by hitting him on the head (to be fair, Rhodes had erroneously ducked into a bouncer). Now he took things to the next level.

One of the fiercest bursts of fast bowling saw South Africa lose their first three wickets with a single run on board; they never recovered, Malcolm finished with nine wickets in 16.3 overs, and their 28-run lead became redundant when Michael Atherton and Graeme Hick chased down the target with ease.

Read Part 1 of this article

To be concluded…

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)

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