Turning Points

The bouncer rule

West Indies' intimidatory tactics and painfully slow over-rates prompted the lawmakers to take away the fast bowler's most lethal weapon

Mike Gatting's broken nose courtesy Malcolm Marshall © PA Photos
Somewhere along the way - between Paul Terry's broken arm and Mike Gatting's pulped nose - the West Indies pace quartet of the 1980s picked up a reputation for intimidatory bowling. Other teams, when they weren't complaining about the blows inflicted on their bodies and psyche, started to point at West Indies' over-rate, which sometimes crawled along at just 70 a day.
Something had to give, and when it did it tilted the balance completely the other way. In 1991, the ICC introduced the "one bouncer per batsman per over" rule in an attempt to end the intimidation, and buck up the over-rates. Flat-track bullies rejoiced but fast bowlers, already condemned to bowling on shirtfronts in most parts of the world, weren't amused, and vociferous protests saw the law amended in 1994 to incorporate two bouncers per over. One-day cricket took much longer to listen to the bowlers' pleas, and it was only in 2001 that once bouncer per over was allowed.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo.This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2003