Safety is the most important aspect in any sport. Cricket too, over the decades has brought into new safety measures.
One important safety gear in cricket that has not only evolved over time, but is extremely important is – helmet.
There was a time when cricket was played without the helmets, it must have been a very scary affair back then. Cricket might be two centuries old, but helmet went mainstream just a few decades ago.
The game of cricket has been slow to embrace the importance and need for helmets. It was only in 1980s and 1990s that helmet became as principal gear as batting pars.
It’s quite astonishing to comprehend why it took more than a century for cricket to finally understand that head was crucial to survival too.
They have though, been worn by cricketers going back to the 1930’s , Patsy Hendren the England cricketer wore a homemade helmet with three peaks to protect himself whilst playing against the West Indies.
But the equipment never really found its true acceptance in the game until 1970s. It was when players started exploring different designs and made makeshift skull caps – Mike Brearley and Sunil Gavaskar, famously wore the unusual equipment back in the day.
During the 1970s, helmets were modeled on motorcycle helmets as they sought to counter the threat posed by the pace of quick bowlers. It was also the time of rampant West Indies bowlers running in, hitting the deck hard, and getting the ball to bounce at your face.
The likes of Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh , and Michael Holding – it was absolute carnage when they were on song. To tackle the might of pace bowlers as such, the need for protective headgear was deemed necessary.
Graham Yallop the Australian cricketer was the first batsman to wear a helmet in a Test match, against the West Indies in 1978. The helmets have since gone through a massive overhaul. The recent advances into the helmet technology has allowed it to be produced on a large scale, and become available and affordable for young cricketers.
Made from either moulded plastic or man made fibers set in resin, the visor made from steel fits into the helmet by the ears, bolting onto the helmet with re-inforced fittings. After motorcycle helmets, cricket had its own version in 1980s and 1990s.
The head gear though didn’t have a grill as is common in today’s cricket. But eventually after need was felt to have a complete head gear that protects the batsmen and prevents concussion injuries, helmets with grills started to roll out.
Modern day cricket helmets are made in compliance with the recent safety standards of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and have to conform to the British Standard BS7928:2013.
Materials used for making cricket helmets are impact resistance materials like ABS Plastic, Fibreglass, carbon fibre, titanium, steel and high density foam etc. Main parts of a cricket helmets are grill (made with steel, titanium or carbon fibre), chin strap, inner foam material, outer impact resistant shell etc.
After the fatality that hit cricket in 2014 – when Phil Hughes was hit by a bouncer and unfortunately passe away – helmets with new neck protecting gear have been introduced. As the game advances, it become important to review safety measures.
Since 2014, a more advanced and protective model of helmets have made it to mainstream. With time, the protective gear continues to evolve.
From 1970s – when motorcycle helmets were used to a modern one – helmets have come a long way.