In the wake of the bouncer barrage received by Australian batsmen in the second Ashes Test, the BCCI has briefed Team India players on the importance of wearing an anti-concussion helmet. The board, however, has left the decision to use neck guard on the cricketers despite growing calls to make it mandatory.
The debate over making neck guards mandatory has once again resurfaced after Steve Smith received a nasty blow on his neck. Smith immediately collapsed to the ground face first after the vicious ball from Jofra Archer hit him on his neck. The disturbing incident was reminiscent of the Phil Hughes incident who had received a fatal injury on his neck.
Following Smith’s injury, Australian team’s sports medicine chief had said that compulsory neck guards on helmets for Australian cricketers are “not far away”. The ball is now in ICC‘s court and the final decision will be with them. But as far as the BCCI is concerned, they have left it on the players to decide. For the time being, the BCCI seems to be more concerned about the players’ comfort rather than their safety.
“Once the new rules on concussions came into effect, the BCCI briefed the captain as well as the coaching staff about it. We have told them about helmets with anti-concussion element — neck guards. A few players including Shikhar Dhawan use it but we can’t force them. Helmet is also about matter of comfort,” a senior BCCI official was quoted as saying by Deccan Chronicle.
“But helmet is something that a player should be comfortable with. Some players may find it difficult to manoeuvre or feel a bit discomfort around the neck region. Till ICC doesn’t make it mandatory, I believe we should leave it up to the players,” he added.
Harbhajan Singh weighs in
With the debate about the neck guard becoming the talk of the town, former India spinner Harbhajan Singh has also weighed in with his opinions. The veteran spinner feels that the neck guards cannot be made mandatory based on Smith’s technique only.
“I would always listen to what Sunil Gavaskar has to say with regards to playing short balls. Watch the ball till last moment. But the odd delivery will hit you. It’s all about the technique. Look at the bowlers of yesteryears. Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Imran Khan and in our time Shoaib Akhtar, Brett Lee. They were all quick,” said senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
“You can’t tell a youngster to copy Steve Smith’s technique. It’s very unique and very effective. But for him only. Also every team doesn’t have a Jofra Archer-like bowler. It could be against a team with medium pacers on Feroz Shah Kotla. Why do you need a neck guard there,” Harbhajan asked.
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