Quite brutal stuff, though it looks like Rahul Dravid fared better than poor Daniel Flynn. But bouncers are strange things, extremely violent but also the truest expression of the game. On the one hand, you have the sheer terror of the delivery. On the other, it’s clear that bowlers don’t mean to hurt, only intimidate or draw on the mistake of reflexes. Think of the many bowlers who run to the batsmen after they fall down in a heap.
The bouncer is the fine line between savagery and civilization, which cricket nicely negotiates with its norms about good sportsmanship and fair play (and, you know, its stricture that no one should kill anyone on the field). There’s a recognition of man’s violent nature, but also the prospect that it can be properly guided and channeled in modern society.
But I wonder: does the bowler owe anything to a batsman he’s hit? It’s always cheering to see a concerned bowler, but I also love hearing the crowd roar — as if watching a Roman gladiator match — when a batsman gets hit. (Though I also liked watching a Bangladeshi in the crowd break down in tears after Dravid retired hurt.) A hurt batsman is, usually, a batsman’s fault, not a bowler’s (which is why we allow bouncers in the first place; they’re meant to test a batsman’s skill. It’s fair play, but to a point — hence the infamy of the Bodyline series).
Didn’t we all thrill inside when Harmison cut Ponting and simply turned the other cheek (back to his run-up)?