Wellington: "Incensed" New Zealand cricket great Richard Hadlee claims TV host Piers Morgan could have been killed by Brett Lee in an exhibition over and he wants the former Australian speedster punished.
During Saturday`s tea break in the England-Australia Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Lee left Morgan battered and bruised as he pounded the Englishman with an over of short-pitched deliveries.
"As a former fast bowler I was appalled and outraged at what I witnessed," Hadlee said in a column written for a leading newspaper.
The exhibition was organised after Lee challenged Morgan to face an over when the television interviewer questioned the courage of some England batsmen.
"Lee`s brutal assault on Morgan was extremely dangerous and unnecessary. It was clear that Morgan could not bat or defend himself against Lee`s pace and intimidation," Hadlee said.
"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, 48, was hit four times on the body by the 37-year-old Lee who only retired from international cricket 17 months ago.
"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 to the deliveries which were hurled at him at 140 kilometres per hour (87 mph).
Cricket`s governing body, the International Cricket Council, has an edict of fair play and upholding the spirit of the game, and that exhibition compromised those values, Hadlee said.
"I only hope that officialdom will review the incident and if necessary take some action against Lee`s behaviour -- perhaps a censure, fine or even a suspension for his act of stupidity and misjudgment."
Hadlee, who took 431 wickets in his 86-Test career, said if he wanted to embarrass Morgan he would have taken more pleasure out of trying to hit the stumps six times than deliberately trying to hit the batsman.
"I believe Lee has erred badly and, on reflection, may realise that he has damaged the image of the game of cricket.
"There will be many mums and dads around the world who saw that exhibition and may decide to stop their kids from playing the game, such was the brutality and the risk to someone`s life."