A South Australian council may ban cricket balls in parks because someone might get hurt

No need to pad up. Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images / File

In a proposal that makes Sydney’s rules for using plastic beer cups look like a society clinging to the last vestiges of lawlessness, a council in South Australia is considering if it should ban the use of real cricket balls in local parks because of concerns somebody might start an argument, get injured – or worse.

“Someone will die,” said councillor Carol Martin, one of the local legislators supporting the proposal to control the hobby practiced by thousands of Australian kids and families every day without incident. “There will be a serious accident or a conflict between people … so there are serious issues,” she said, according to a report in the Portside Messenger.

Millions of people are willing to pay money to watch athletes hitting real cricket balls at sports grounds in Australia and around the world each year. Batters of all abilities need to hone their skills for competition with the red ball because of its unique weight, surface characteristics and bounce.

As any cricketer will attest, being struck by a cricket ball can hurt, and leave a spectacular bruise. This is particularly the case if the batsman has really gotten hold of a loose delivery with a stroke which, on the field, would send it back over the bowler’s head or racing through cover for a tidy boundary.

Independent councillor Mark Basham has asked staff at Port Adelaide Enfield Council to prepare a report into the use of hard balls in local parks. He told Business Insider he had been “told people are being hit” by hard balls while out walking, and that it was the rise in casual cricketers using the nets, rather than club players, which were causing friction in park spaces.

“Times have changed,” Basham said. “The problem is not the children – it’s adults using the cricket nets.”

Basham, who admits the intervention smacks of nanny statism, told Business Insider he played cricket as a kid (“badly”), but that when he was growing up he and his schoolfriends would switch to softer balls if there were other members of the public nearby.

“Frankly, this needs to be about a shift in people’s mentality. People just need to be more polite and considerate to each other.”

Basham said he was not proposing penalties for people using red balls at this stage, but rather an investigation of options for resolving some of the complaints about players having a casual tonk.

Options include signs at parks with cricket nets asking people to use tennis balls if they are using nets without a booking. The proposal would cover all parks, not just ones with nets, however.

The Messenger report quotes former Test cricketer Wayne Phillips as saying the while the risk of injury was “fairly remote” that “you’d hope most people use common sense”.

It turns out that Phillips was Basham’s cricket coach when he was young. “He wasn’t a very good coach, because I was a very bad cricketer,” Basham said.
There’s more at Messenger >>