John Stern is editor of the Wisden Cricketer
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Bowlers will tell you, with heavy heart and knackered limbs, that it's always been a batsman's game. Stereotypically, batsmen were the amateurs who ruled the game (and plenty else besides) while the bowlers were the professionals paid to amuse the amateurs by bowling at them.
But we do seem to have reached a strange point in the journey where one doesn't have to look hard for conspiracy theories. This is the age of the batsman yet within the last 10 years or so, there have been huge rows about ball-tampering and chucking. Bowlers accused of either or both have essentially been criminalised, treated with the sort of disdain normally reserved for aging rockers caught doing unspeakable things in south Asia. Yet there is barely a murmur and a stifled yawn when a manufacturer has to withdraw a bat from production because MCC deems it illegal. If Test batsmen the world over couldn't get the ball off the square then the reactionaries might have a point. But imagine where we¹d be without doosras and reverse swing: 200 for none at lunch and bored out of our minds, that's where.
Cricket has to maintain some sort of balance between bat and ball otherwise it ceases to be the game that we love. So much is weighted in the batsman¹s favour now: shorter boundaries, lighter but more powerful bats, bouncer restrictions. What can be done to balance the scales? Did I hear someone say uncovered pitches?