After a strong blow to Steve Smith in the Second Ashes, national team’s sports medicine chief said that there must be a compulsion of neck guards on helmets for Australian cricketers on the field.
Australia has been ahead at safety measures after the death of Phillip Hughes, who was hit on the base of the skull by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield game in 2014.
Cricket Australia has come out with the new rules for concussion substitutes in the domestic games taking an independent investigation into the tragedy.
Now, these new rules have been taken up by the ICC and were used for the first time when Steve Smith was replaced by Marnus Labuschagne on Sunday against England at Lord’s after he was ruled out with the injury.
However, after Hughes death, all the first-class players in Australia are recommended to wear helmets made to British safety standards while batting against medium pace or fast bowling. These include the use of specially designed neck guards which were known as StemGuards.
Actually, during the compulsion, Smith was not wearing a neck guard. Everyone felt the scenario very similar to the Hughes incident in a Sheffield Shield game.
Cricket Australia’s sports science and sports medicine chief Alex Kountouris said it was only a matter of time before they became mandatory, revealing the International Cricket Council, Cricket Australia, the England and Wales Cricket Board, and helmet manufacturers recently completed a major review.
“Helmet manufacturers did the right thing and came out with products (after Hughes’ death). There was no real knowledge of the mechanism, what exactly they were trying to protect or stuff like that. But since that time we have done a lot of research. We actually have a pretty good understanding of that now. Beforehand, we didn’t know the right equipment we were endorsing.” – Kountouris told.
However, there was an agreement on what the standard should look like which includes size and area that need to be covered and force properties that should be used.
Kountouris said it would take about six months for manufacturers to complete the upgraded product, which then would be trialed by players.
“Obviously, at some point, we want to make it a requirement to wear but we want to make sure we have the right products — we haven’t seen what the products are at the moment. When we get to that point, I think we’ll be comfortable to say: ‘Let’s make it a requirement’. There is still a little time to go but we are not far away.” – Kountouris added.
The former doctor of the Australian team Peter Brukner said he was surprised that some top players still don’t wear neck guards.
Kountouris finally admitted that it should be made mandatory to the players. “I think it should be mandatory,”- Kountouris said.