Why neck guards shouldn’t be a matter of choice but mandatory for players
Although we do enjoy Archer’s aggression and his fire-spitting deliveries on the field, it is never a pleasant sight to witness a batsman falling to the ground and losing consciousness.
What on earth is India’s cricket board doing in the matter of neck guards for batsmen? The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) idea of ‘encouraging’ players to wear helmets with neck guards, instead of making it mandatory, is simply giving an option to the players to live or die.
The calls for extra protection to the back of neck grew after Steve Smith retired with concussion in the first innings of the second Ashes test. England pacer Jofra Archer’s fiery delivery struck at the back of his neck, rendering him unfit for the second innings. According to reports he has been ruled out of the third test as well.
The 24-year-old Archer has already knocked down quite a few players with his pace, seemingly fulfilling his 2013 prophecy.
All batsmen buy 2 helmets cause went we meet they will be in use ..— Jofra Archer (@JofraArcher) March 5, 2013
Although we do enjoy Archer’s aggression and his fire-spitting deliveries on the field, it is never a pleasant sight to witness a batsman falling to the ground and losing consciousness. The tragedy that befell Phillip Hughes is still afresh in the minds of the cricket lovers.
We also remember how traumatised Sean Abbot was (whose bouncer hit Hughes) after the incident. The same applies to Archer as well. He won’t be smiling the day one of his deliveries turns ‘life-taking’.
According to a PTI report, a BCCI official has said that the players and captain had been asked to wear helmets with extra protection for the neck.
“A few players including Shikhar Dhawan use it but we can’t force them. Helmet is also a matter of comfort… 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 said to PTI.
It shouldn’t be dismissed so lightly, as it is a matter of life and death. Comfort, of course, shouldn’t come with such high risk. It shouldn’t be left to the players, as it is human tendency to circumvent such measures for the sake of ease and convenience - which is evident from the fact that even after making helmets compulsory, we see a lot of riders on the road without them.
Traffic rules are made for the safety of the citizens. If helmets and seat belts can be made mandatory, there is no reason why such strict measures should not apply to sports as well. An arm guard can be a matter of choice (breaking a bone or two won’t be life threatening at least.) However, when it comes to the most important part of the human body, there shouldn’t be any laxity.
The new International Cricket Council (ICC) rule, which allows teams to play a concussion substitute is a welcome one. Although it is introduced to neutralise the disadvantage of being a player down due to unfortunate accidents during play, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Bringing down the number of serious on-field injuries should always be a priority for any team.