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Early Days of Cricket Helmet

“Necessity is the mother of invention” – Plato (the ancient Greek philosopher)

Cricket is no different!!

We play fantasy cricket games today where we need no protective gears! But years ago, batsmen had to face the fast bowlers without any protection. Since there were no bouncer limits then, it was really a ‘do or die’ situation for the batsmen. And then there were scenarios where tail-enders was always greeted at the crease with fast bouncers going past their chin or missing their ear by a whisker. Batsmen nowadays are indeed lucky.

Helmets were first used in baseball. In 1905, Frank Mogridge created the first crude protective head gear.” In cricket, there are instances where players used towels, scarves and padded caps to protect themselves from the hard cricket ball. In the 1930s, the first player to use a protective hat was Patsy Hendren. He designed it himself. However, it took 40 more years for helmets to be used on a more regular basis. In the 1970s, helmets were seen in World Series Cricket to be used by a lot of players. The first player to use helmet consistently was Dennis Amiss.

Former English captain Mike Brearly also used helmets of his own design. However, another former English batsman Tony Greig had the opinion that they would make cricket more dangerous by encouraging bowlers to bounce the batsmen. Those days, rules of cricket were not biased towards batsmen like they are now. So bowlers were allowed to bowl as many bouncers as they wanted.

First to wear helmet

The first player to wear a helmet in a Test match was Graham Yallop of Australia on 17 March, 1978, when playing against West Indies at Bridgetown. One the reasons could have been the four lethal fast bowlers that West Indies had in the 1970s. But it was English batsman Dennis Amiss who made it popular in Test cricket.

In the early days, the helmets did not have protective grills. So although the head was safe, players were always in risk to get injured in the face. Modern helmets have strong protective grills to prevent balls from hitting the face. In modern cricket, all batsman wear helmets against fast bowlers. Sometimes few players select not to wear them while facing spin bowlers.

To protect the young players, in Under-19 cricket it is compulsory for all batsmen and any fielder within 15 yards (14 m) of the bat to wear helmets. Recently, in the fourth test between India and England, Stuart Broad suffered a broken nose when the ball went past the grill and hit him. He was seen batting with double protective grill in the next match.

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