MCC backs plan for bowler protection

Kookaburra reportedly interested in getting involved in design project for 'head protection' for bowlers

Cricket Network

12 August 2018, 08:10 AM AEST

The MCC World Cricket committee has thrown its support behind the idea of designing a piece of "head protection" for bowlers, with Australia's Kookaburra Sport already expressing interest in developing the concept.

With the prevalence of bowlers being struck in their follow-through on the increase, particularly in the shorter formats, the subject was last week discussed between the Lord's-based MCC and the England and Wales Cricket Club.

The MCC panel, chaired by ex-England skipper Mike Gatting and including fellow former national captains Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly, "viewed footage of recent accidents involving bowlers who had been hit immediately after completing his delivery by powerful straight drives, especially in T20 cricket", a media release read.

The release added: "The incidents, including one involving Nottinghamshire's Luke Fletcher last year, gave serious cause for concern."

Last December, Otago's Warren Barnes wore a protective helmet while bowling in a Twenty20 match in Hamilton, after fearing his bowling action – in which his head stayed down a long way through his follow-through – could potentially leave him in danger of a fiercely struck shot.

The protective equipment was designed with Barnes and his coach, Rob Walter, and resembled a baseball umpire's visor and a track cyclist's helmet.

Kookaburra are reportedly keen to get involved in the design project, with spokesman Shannon Gill saying the manufacturer was open to involvement.

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"We currently make helmets for batters and a whole range of protective equipment," Gill was quoted as saying by Fairfax Media.

"Our helmets are now being adopted by international players. So if this was a path the MCC were advising, we'd be happy to work with them, understand what is needed and see how we can help.

"Our role in cricket is to evolve with what the game needs and innovate accordingly.

"Whether the game needs it is a debate the MCC, the ICC and the players themselves can have."

After being struck in the collarbone and throat at the non-striker's end while playing with Sydney Thunder in last summer's KFC Big Bash, Ben Rohrer suggested face masks for bowlers could be "the next step" in terms of player protection in the game.

"…if guys keep hitting them that hard (it could become commonplace)," Rohrer said of the protective headwear.

"I know the umpires have started to do it and I think that's a great move with the helmets, and obviously the batters have helmets on at the other end too, so I think that (bowlers wearing protective headwear) is the next step.

"Particularly when you saw how Chris Lynn hit them tonight – if he hit one straight back at the bowler, it's big trouble."

South Australian paceman Joe Mennie has twice been on the receiving end of balls struck back at him while bowling, once in the nets at Sydney Sixers training, which left him with a fractured skull and minor brain bleeding, and again in the County Championship earlier this year. The latter incident resulted in him being substituted under a new concussion ruling.