The Steve Smith concussion, like all of us, took Cricket Australia back to Phil Hughes incident. Good bit of time and money was invested in protective gear for the batsmen after the unfortunate incident four year ago.
The latest injury to Smith has once again brought up the issue of safety of batsmen. In what was frightening to see, Smith had faced a nasty bouncer from Jofra Archer, that hit him on the neck, a part where there is usually no protection.
This brought up the thought of making the neck guards mandatory.
Cricket Australia’s sports science and sports medicine chief Alex Kountouris said it was only a matter of time before they became mandatory.
“Helmet manufacturers did the right thing and came out with products (after Hughes’ death). There was no real knowledge of the mechanism, what exactly they were trying to protect or stuff like that,” Kountouris told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“But since that time we have done a lot of research. We actually have a pretty good understanding of that now.”
Now the manufacturers are thinking about neck guards and Kountouris said it would take about six months for the manufacturers to complete the upgraded product, which would then be trialed by players.
“Obviously, at some point, we want to make it a requirement to wear but we want to make sure we have the right products. We haven’t seen what the products are at the moment,” he said.
“When we get to that point, I think we’ll be comfortable to say, ‘Let’s make it a requirement’. There is still a little time to go but we are not far away.”
But while CA seems to make it a compulsion to wear neck guards, their superstar Steve Smith doesn’t seem to be huge fan of the neck guards.
“I feel a little bit claustrophobic when it’s on. I feel like I’m enclosed and not overly comfortable,” he was recently quoted as saying.
Stem guards were developed in the aftermath of Hughes’ tragic death.
Under the current Cricket Australia’s concussion and head trauma policy, the helmet attachments are recommended but not mandatory.
David Warner, who had previously called it a “distraction”, is another Australian batsmen who don’t use neck guards.
This is huge point to consider for Cricket Australia before making neck guards mandatory. Most recently in American soccer, Oakland Raiders’ Antonio Brown threatened to retire when he was forced to wear a new model helmet for safety purposes. CA would not want any such issues with any of its players, forget about Steve Smith or David Warner.
Smith though does not seem to be in that kind of a mindset. Though he was uncomfortable, he tried to be a little positive about neck guards saying he will try to find a way to get comfortable with it. But if he still finds it difficult to adjust, will CA be able to stand on its decision?
With two of their best players known to be in discomfort with the neck guards, will Cricket Australia still be able to make it mandatory?
CA will have a lot to think about before making any decisions on neck guards. It is still a long way ahead though, with some research on the product and trails to be made. But as much as safety of the players will be thought about before coming to the decision, Cricket Australia will also have to think about their players’ “comfort”.