ECB announce new helmet safety measures
From the start of next season, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have made it compulsory for men and women playing professional cricket in England and Wales to wear helmets when batting or fielding close to the wicket.
Batsmen will be required to wear head protection while facing all types of bowling, as will wicket-keepers when standing up to the stumps and fielders closer than eight yards from the batsman's middle stump, except those fielding behind the wicket on the off side, for example in the slips.
The ECB also recommend that recreational cricketers also follow the same guidelines and those players under the age of 18 must wear a helmet when batting, standing up to the stumps or fielding close to the wicket.
The changes come after a joint review by the ECB and the Professional Cricketers' Association of current safety guidance and designed to reduce the risk of head and facial injuries in the game.
Already, the ECB has taken a number of steps including forming an ECB Cricket Safety Working Group and re-defining the role of the ECB Chief Medical Officer to allow greater emphasis to be placed on injury surveillance and research into the safety of the game.
They have also set up an Emergency Care Working Group to improve training and provision of emergency care standards at first-class, second XI and training venues, introduced new concussion guidelines and are collaborating with Loughborough Institute of Sport Technology, sponsoring a PHD researching helmet design, head injuries and safety in relation to cricket.
"We can see from our injury surveillance that cricket is not a dangerous sport in comparison to many other leisure activities," ECB Chief Medical Officer Nick Pierce said.
"However, as we have seen in recent times, the cricket ball can cause significant injury and it is extremely important that players take the appropriate precautions when batting, keeping wicket or fielding close to the stumps.
"The latest cricket helmets have made significant strides in providing protection against potentially catastrophic injury and we would strongly advise all players to make sure their helmet conforms to the latest British Safety Standard.
"Today’s decision is a major step forward and will help make First Class cricket safer as well as sending a strong message to the recreational game about the importance of helmet safety."
PCA Chief Executive Angus Porter added: "We welcome today’s decision on helmet use which is the product of a joint initiative between the PCA and ECB. It provides an excellent opportunity for professional cricketers to lead by example and drive greater awareness of the importance of player safety across the whole game."
The ECB Board's endorsement of these changes came almost one year exactly since Australian cricketer Phil Hughes died after being struck on the head during a Sheffield Shield match.
© Cricket World 2015