Cricket was once a gentleman’s sport played in leisurely fashion. For many years the ball was even bowled underarm. Over the decades the game became more and more athletic and vigorous with balls flying down the wicket at an ever increasing pace and with higher bounce.
Thus cricketers were getting injured and so over the years protective equipment has been introduced to the game. In spite of this players can still get injured if they fail to protect themselves, their equipment fails or there is a freak accident. Here are some of the most infamous incidents.
Before modern abdominal guards made from high density foam became the norm, cricketers would wear “boxes” which were fashioned from hard plastic which could be brittle and break under the force of an impact with the ball. In the 1974/75 Ashes series against Australia, English batsman David Lloyd had the misfortune to face the bowling of Jeff Thompson when he was in a bad mood. Thompson bowled a missile at Lloyd who took a direct hit to the groin breaking his box and leaving him prostrate on the ground.
In 1988 during a test match against the West Indies at the WACA, Australian batsman Geoff Lawson could not get out of the way of a bouncer delivered by Curtly Ambrose and was hit in the face. Lawson broke his jaw and was clearly in immense pain when he fell to the ground. He was wearing a helmet but it was without a face guard and so the ball was able to smash straight into his face.
Although batsmen and fielders in certain positions now wear helmets with face guards bowlers remain unprotected and can be accidently hit by the ball. In 2011 Zimbabwe international Keegan Meth bowled to Bangladeshi batsman Nasir Hossain who struck the ball directly into Meth’s face as he completed his follow through. Meth fell to the ground with a bloodied face and was found to have suffered a nasty laceration and the loss of four upper teeth.
Some fielders do not like to wear a helmet even when fielding in a dangerous position because they feel it affects their vision and balance but the decision not to wear one can be very costly. In 1998 Raman Lamba was fielding for Bangladeshi side Abahani Krira Chakra when he was called forward to short leg and refused a helmet because he was only to face three balls.
Sadly he was struck on the forehead by a shot and after initially getting up and walking from the field was later rushed to hospital after feeling unwell. He was diagnosed with a blood clot to the brain from which he never recovered. Lamba died three days after the incident in hospital.
Excellent protective wear is now available to cricketers but such cricket accessories don’t help if the players don’t wear them or if a freak accident occurs where a player who would not normally require the equipment is struck by the ball. Whatever protective measures you take you cannot legislate for good old fashioned bad luck.
License: Creative Commons
Sally Stacey is a keen writer and sports enthusiast whose father was a cricketer and survived three decades without ever wearing a helmet.