CNN host Piers Morgan has made a habit of trolling athletes and sports figures on Twitter in a way that Skip Bayless could only dream. He was Arsene Wenger's most vocal critic until Arsenal started winning consistently again this season and we've even seen him trade blows with players on his favorite team. It's gotten to the point where athletes like Rio Ferdinand now mock Morgan and the hashtag #tears4piers has become quite popular.
This month Morgan has turned his attention to the English cricket team as they've been demolished by Australia in the Ashes series, one of the biggest events in world cricket. (Think our version of the Ryder Cup, a usually biannual test series between Australia and England.) England has already lost the series by falling in each of the first four tests of the five test series and face the ultimate humiliation of being whitewashed if they lose the final test.
For the respectability of his homeland, Morgan decided to put his money where his mouth is and step into the crease to bat an over against Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, who Morgan described as the "Aroldis Chapman of cricket." During the tea break on Day 2 of the fourth test at the MCG (I wish we had tea breaks instead of commercials in American sports), Morgan faced Lee on live Australian television. The result was a whole lot of bruising for both Morgan's enormous ego and his body…
Ouch. That hurts just to watch. Credit Piers for actually standing in there to face six fastballs like that where most individuals would have run to the airport and caught the next plane home.
While Morgan and Lee were mostly laughs and smiles and kept it good natured before and after the battle, this hasn't gone without controversy. Cricket Hall of Famer Sir Richard Hadlee launched a blistering attack on Lee with a column in the Sydney Morning Herald, saying that Lee brought the game into disrepute and actually could have killed Morgan with his body blows:
"It was clear that Morgan could not bat or defend himself against Lee's pace and intimidation – this was an unfair and one-sided contest that could have had severe consequences. Sadly, in the past batsmen have died from receiving blows to the body.
I only hope that Brett takes a few minutes to reflect on his stupidity – this was a brain explosion of the highest order – it was a deliberate attempt to hit, injure, hurt and maim his opponent that I viewed as a form of grievous bodily harm or a human assault that could have proved fatal.
Morgan, aged 48, was hit four times on the body and if he was hit on the head or across the heart the result could have been devastating. Lee bowled only one ball at the wickets, and the other five were directed at the batman's middle to upper body and head.
Morgan had only 0.4 of a second to react and play a shot or try and defend himself against a hard, 156-gram flying missile hurled down at him from 20.12 metres at 140kmh – believe me this is not an experience the common man or players wants to endure.
I have always admired Lee as a person and as a quality fast bowler but his bowling exhibition damaged his reputation and credibility – in fact I believe he has brought the game of cricket into disrepute."
Morgan tweeted this picture of the carnage.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 28, 2013
Who knew sporting publicity stunts could create so much controversy? The most dangerous publicity stunt I think that would compare in American sports is when Charles Barkley raced Dick Bavetta. Someone could have seriously gotten hurt during that "race."