The fastest bowling I have ever faced in my life were the 3-4 balls bowled by my uncle. He was an excellent all round cricketer who should have gone on to much greater things, had it not been for ‘those days’ when cricket as a career was not encouraged. He bagged many an award during his time and was well known in the cricketing leagues. He batted and bowled spin too. But most he bowled really fast and once sent a batsman to hospital with a head injury. I was in awe of him most of the time.
Well, he bowled a few balls to me that day without a run up or anything. He just bowled from where he stood. To be honest, I never saw the first ball at all. I just saw his arm going over and the ball hit my bat even before I moved out of my stance. The shock of the hit almost tore my shoulder off and my left arm started vibrating. It was almost the same with the next 2-3 balls. I did not have to do anything. The ball always reached me before I lifted the bat. Luckily, something came up and we had to stop. But my shoulder was sore that entire day.
Oh I forgot to mention that we were playing with a rubber ball in my building compound!
I mention all this because we find it so easy to criticize batsmen, but imagine a 6 and half foot tall Starc or Archer steaming with a hard shining new ball weighing roughly 160 grams and hurling it at almost supersonic speed from a height of about 10 feet at you! I wonder what happens to the batsman’s arm when the ball hits the bat! Maybe the batsmen get used to it but really, in their place, I would have been tempted to turn tail and scoot hastily in the general direction of the pavilion or run and hide behind the square leg umpire’s coat tails!🤣🤣🤣
Imagine facing the same thing over and over again during a long innings! Gosh! No, these batsmen are made of some other stuff. I don’t care if they don’t score too many runs or don’t score too often. That they are just willing to stand there and risk their lives and limbs to face down the fastest bowlers in the world, that itself must be terrifying. Not only that, but eagerly wanting and willing to do that match after match, ball after ball, almost laying their life on the line every time. And remember it takes just one ball, just one ball, to kill you, to break your bones, to maim you for life. That is stupendous. That makes them real-life heroes to me.