‘Wear neck protectors… or face sanctions’: CA instructs Aussie players
Sydney, Sep 14 (IANS) Every Australian player in international and domestic cricket will be required to wear neck protectors from October 1, or face sanctions under new rules to be introduced by Cricket Australia.
Changes to CA’s playing conditions for the 2023-24 season make it mandatory for batters in all CA-sanctioned competitions to wear the neck protectors that are fixed or fitted to the rear of batting helmets when facing fast or medium pace bowling, states Cricket Australia.
The changes will impact several of Australia’s international batters, including David Warner, Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja, who do not currently wear the protectors when batting. CA will make wearing neck protection at international training and matches mandatory via a change to its clothing and equipment regulations.
Of the current Australian white-ball squad in South Africa, Warner, Tim David and Josh Inglis are the batters who have not been wearing neck protectors.
CA had recommended the use of neck protectors since their introduction following the tragic death of Phillip Hughes but several veteran players have been reluctant to take them up.
Smith, who was not wearing a neck guard when struck by Jofra Archer at Lord’s in the 2019 Ashes, said that year they made him “feel claustrophobic”.
“I’ve tried them before and I tried them the other day when I was batting (in the nets) and I reckon my heart rate went up about 30 or 40 straight away,” Smith said in 2019.
“I just feel claustrophobic. I compare it to being stuck in an MRI scan machine,” Smith added before conceding” “I’m going to have to get used to them.”
“I’m sure the more I wear them, the more I practice with them, my heart rate will come down and everything will be OK.”
Warner said in 2016 that he does “not and will not wear” one because it “digs into” his neck and is a distraction.
The update to regulations comes just a week after star allrounder Cameron Green was struck by a Kagiso Rabada bouncer on the neck guard fixed to his Gray Nicolls helmet and substituted out of the first ODI against South Africa with concussion.
The regulation to wear neck protectors does not apply to batters facing slow or spin bowling, along with wicketkeepers and close-in fielders. However, ‘keepers standing up to the stumps and close-in fielders have long been required to wear helmets.
The rule on neck protectors has been in place in English domestic cricket since October 2022, which caught Smith out during his first innings of his three-game county stint with Sussex prior to this year’s Ashes when umpires stopped play for 10 minutes and required that he fit a neck guard to his helmet.
Peter Roach, CA’s Head of Cricket Operations and Scheduling, said a lot of research and testing had gone into neck protectors and the governing body now felt the time was right to make them mandatory.