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Howzat! CNN anchor Piers Morgan faces rapid over from Brett Lee

By James Masters, CNN
updated 3:16 PM EST, Fri December 27, 2013
  • CNN anchor Piers Morgan went head to head with Australian bowler Brett Lee
  • Morgan left flat on his backside at Melbourne Cricket Ground
  • The 48-year-old anchor hit four times in six deliveries
  • England fight back in fourth Test to take control on second day

(CNN) -- Piers Morgan likes to talk the talk but how did the CNN anchor fare when he had to walk the walk and face a cricket ball coming towards him at 150 kilometers an hour?

Morgan, who likes to tweet from the lip, has been one of England's most outspoken critics over the past few weeks following the team's embarrassing capitulation against Australia in the fiercely contested Ashes series.

And from the cosy surroundings of his U.S. home, Morgan took to Twitter to criticize England's wretched batting in the first three Ashes Tests -- matches in which Australia cruised to victory.

But on Friday in Melbourne, where England are playing Australia in the fourth Test, Morgan got a taste of what the touring batsmen have had to contend with over the last few weeks, though none of them were dumped onto their backside -- unlike the CNN anchor.

Facing former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, a man who took 310 wickets in 76 Tests, Morgan was pummeled during a six-ball blast.

With Lee not holding back, Morgan gave the appearance of a rabbit caught in the headlights as he backed away from nearly every delivery.

Watch Morgan's ordeal on YouTube

On four occasions the Englishman was hit on the body, while he was also clean bowled by Lee much to the amusement of the watching crowd of 2,000, which included Australian cricketers Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle.

"He got hurt but he didn't get maimed, so that's a positive step," Lee told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"You have to give full credit to the guy -- he's going to be really sore tomorrow.

"But he kept on going, so you have to take your hat off to the guy.

"The biggest smile around the ground was from Mitchell Johnson I think. I looked over at Mitch and he gave me a wink, he was quite chuffed."

If the 48-year-old Morgan was bloodied, he remained unbowed after his bruising experience.

"It's made me reassess what you need out here on an Ashes tour and that is courage, fortitude and a Churchillian spirit of never giving in despite overwhelming odds," he said.

CNN digital writer Chris Murphy plays amateur cricket with Morgan, so what was his analysis of his teammate's performance?

"Having played cricket with Piers on numerous occasions, it's well known he has two shots: a forward defense and a heave to the leg side," said Murphy. "Sadly, he wasn't able to exhibit either.

"Charging down the wicket at someone bowling nearly 150 kph isn't brave, it's just plain stupid. But Piers deserves full marks for the guts he showed in the face of a relentless barrage from Brett Lee.

"The sight of any batsman backing away from his stumps is a sign he's troubled by the pace of the bowler, but in this case it was probably a wise idea to prevent his chin being shattered.

"A still head, straight bat and balance are the fundamentals of batting -- sadly for Piers, none of those elements were on show in Melbourne. Thankfully though, he is still alive to tell the tale."

Read: World record cricket crowd at MCG sees Australia on top

The England players who were the subject of Morgan's Twitter angst did at least return to form Friday to take control of the fourth Test at the MCG.

Their nemesis Johnson took five wickets to leave England 255 all out, but the visitors hit back to have the home side reeling on 167 for nine at stumps and facing the prospect of defeat after three earlier easy victories.

Read: Kallis set to retire from Test match cricket

In South Africa, fast bowler Dale Steyn put on a display that Lee at his best would be proud of, taking six wickets for 100 runs as India were all out for 334 in their first innings in Durban.

Retiring legend Jacques Kallis became only the second man in Test history to take 200 catches during the course of the second day.

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