In the sport of cricket, batsmen often wear a helmet to protect themselves from injury or concussion by the cricket ball, which is very hard and can be bowled to them at speeds over 90 miles per hour (140 km/h). Cricket helmets cover the whole of the head, and have a grill or perspex visor to protect the face. Often constructed with a carbon fibre and Kevlar shell, the helmet is designed to deflect cricket balls as well as shield the wearer from impact, and its liner includes an inflatable element to tightly fit the helmet to its wearer's head.
Fielders who are positioned very close to the batsman (e.g. silly point or short leg) often wear a helmet and shin guards. Nowadays it is almost unheard of for a professional cricketer to face a fast bowler without a helmet. Some batsmen prefer not to wear a helmet when facing spin bowling.
There are recorded instances of cricketers using scarves and padded caps to protect themselves throughout cricket history. Patsy Hendren was one of the first to use a self designed protective hat in the 1930s. Helmets were not in common use until the 1970s. The first helmets were seen in World Series Cricket, with Dennis Amiss being the first player to consistently wear a helmet.
Mike Brearley was another player who wore his own design. Tony Greig was of the opinion that they would make cricket more dangerous by encouraging bowlers to bounce the batsmen. Graham Yallop of Australia was the first to wear a protective helmet to a test match on 17 March 1978, when playing against West Indies at Bridgetown. Later Dennis Amiss of England popularised it in Test cricket. Helmets began to be widely worn thereafter.
The last batsmen at the highest (Test match) level to never wear a helmet throughout his career was Viv Richards, who retired from the international game in 1991.
Modern day cricket helmets
Modern day cricket helmets are made in compliance recent safety standards of ICC. Materials used for making cricket helmets are impact resistance materials like ABS Plastic, Fibreglass, carbon fibre, titanium, steel and high density foam etc. Main parts of a cricket helmets are grill (made with steel or carbon fibre), chin strap, inner foam material, outer impact resistant shell etc. Sometimes, a batsman can be seriously injured or killed by a fast ball while not wearing a helmet, but some fatalities have occurred even when the batsman was wearing a helmet, like the fate of Phillip Hughes.
As of 2017, the International Cricket Council has refused to pass laws requiring the wearing of helmets, rather leaving the decision to each test nation to decide for themselves. However, although it is not obligatory for a batsman to wear a helmet, should he chose to do so, the helmet must comply with specific safety requirements, a rule all the test playing nations have agreed to.
In first class cricket, as of 2016, the England and Wales Cricket Board requires all batsmen, wicketkeepers and fielders closer than 8 yards from the wicket to wear helmets. This is mandatory even when facing medium-pace and spin bowling. New Zealand Cricket and the Board of Control for Cricket in India do not require batsmen to wear helmets.
Opposition from players
Many players refused to wear helmets, either believing that they obstructed their vision when batting, or, just as in the similar debate in ice hockey, feeling helmets were unmanly, a view held by many spectators. Englishman Dennis Amiss was the first player to wear a helmet in the modern game, during a World Series Cricket match, for which both the crowd and other players mocked him. Australian captain Graham Yallop was booed when he wore one in a 1978 match against the West Indies (the first time a helmet was worn in a test match) and West Indian captain Viv Richards viewed such protection as cowardly. India captain Sunil Gavaskar believed that helmets slowed down a batsman's reflexes and refused to wear one. In more recent times, many batsmen have felt that modern helmet designs have become increasingly obstructive. Most notably, England captain Alastair Cook for a time refused to wear a new helmet complying to ICC safety regulations since he felt it was distracting and uncomfortable. His England teammate Jonathan Trott also refused for similar reasons, and teammate Nick Compton (a close friend of Phillip Hughes) felt that the new regulations were overzealous.
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until the late 1970s helmets were unheard of; batsmen wore nothing to protect their noggins except a cloth cap. When they began to creep into the game—Dennis Amiss, an English batsman, is usually cited as the first to wear one regularly during the 1978 World Series Cricket tournament—they were essentially adapted motorcycle helmets. Batsmen who donned them were sometimes mocked as cowards.
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