This morning we saw the horrifying images of Phil Hughes, the Australian batsman, being hit on the head by a bouncer. We know that cricket balls are hard which is why we wear cricket helmets. In the wake of such an injury to a fine and skilled batsman we are asking are cricket helmets enough protection?
On all of our Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academies we ensure that all children wear cricket helmets for all hard ball matches and drills. We also believe that it is good practice to wear helmets for drills or games with softer tennis or incrediballs as well. In the same way that players ought to get used to moving with leg guards (pads) on or feel the bat with their hands while wearing cricket gloves in drills, we believe that the more a player wears a helmet, the more he/she gets used to it and the more comfortable and familiar the player becomes with it.
A cricket ball is a hard object and although very rare, players on both teams can be struck on the head. It can happen while players are fielding, running between the wickets, or even freak incidents while batting (one of our coaches has struck a half volley into the ground and had the ball ricochet back into his eye!). Should bowlers have to run in and bowl with protective headgear on? How would that affect their bowling action?
Is the answer for all players to wear protective headgear at all times? This seems like a dramatic reaction to a recent event and there are far more dangerous sports (e.g. hockey at short corners). It does raise the question of how safe our cricket helmets really are and do manufacturers exceed required standards or just hit them? Should these standards be raised, and if so, to what level. Would raising standards in design adversely effect player mobility, comfort etc or is that just the small price to pay for increased safety?
While our thoughts are with Phil Hughes and his family, we want to reassure all our parents and children that we place player safety as imperative importance on all our camps.