When watching cricket either on TV or live, it is normal to see a batter wearing a helmet. It has also become more common for wicketkeepers to do the same when standing up to the stumps for slower bowlers. The obvious reason behind wearing a helmet is to reduce the severity of head and facial injuries. Helmets do reduce the impact of the ball hitting the batter, but it doesn’t completely take away the risk of injury.
Is It Compulsory to Wear a Helmet in Cricket?
For anyone over the age of 18, no! Strangely, it is not compulsory to wear a helmet at all. It is strongly advised that one is worn at all times, but it is not uncommon to see batters remove their helmets when facing spin bowlers. What is compulsory is that the helmet conforms to British standards BS7928:2013.
However, it is compulsory for under 18 cricketers to wear a helmet when batting in a game of net session and for wicketkeepers to wear a head protector (helmet).
What Happens if the Ball Hits the Helmet in Cricket?
Whilst a batter is wearing a helmet, the same laws apply as they do to leg guards and gloves. If the ball comes in to contact with a bat before or after hitting the helmet, then the batter can be caught. For a helmet that has been taken off and left on the field there are sanctions. The batting side score 5 penalty runs if a helmet on the ground is hit by the ball. This also applied if the fielding team through the ball and it strikes the helmet.
What is the “ICC Concussion” Rule?
August 2019 saw this addition to the ICC rule book and one which makes sense. The batting team can now replace someone who has been struck on the head whilst batting and can no longer continue playing. This needs to be a like for like move, an ICC official will be on hand to make sure everything is above board. This law applies to both the men’s and women’s game and was used twice in the men’s World Cup 2019 when the same bowler, Jofra Archer, struck Steve Smith (Australian) and Hashim Amla (South African) in the head.
Cricket Helmet Regulatory Bodies
The International Cricket Council (ICC) have set clear guidelines in relation to protective equipment, especially head protectors. Their definition of head protector includes a helmet with a faceguard or grille. Whilst they do not make it compulsory to wear one, all helmets used must conform to British standards BS7928:2013. This means that the face guard has been thoroughly tested to assess the penetration of a ball through the face guard. Obviously, this does not account for people who leave too big a gap between the grille and peak of the helmet. The helmet must also be labelled to state if it has been tested using an adult ball, a junior ball or both.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) adopt these guidelines from the ICC. For women’s helmets, the ECB guidelines state that the helmet must be tested against a junior and senior ball or by just a junior ball. A women’s ball is between the senior and junior ball in terms of size.
British Standard in 2013
The BS7928:2013 helmet standard was introduced in 2013, the new 2015 standard is not yet compulsory. There have been movements in terms of equipment regulations regarding helmets across cricket.
Men’s Cricket Players
All helmets worn in the men’s game must conform to ICC standards. In some countries like Australia, there are movements towards always making all batters in the domestic game wear a helmet against all types of bowling. This is something that the ECB are keen to enforce too.
Female Cricket Players
There were no pre-existing guidelines specifically for the female game nor are there any now. The only recommendation is that the helmet has been tested against a junior ball due to its smaller size.
Young Cricket Players
Since the year 2000, the ECB published specific guidelines for under 18’s and the wearing of helmets. All batters and wicketkeepers standing up to the stumps, must wear a helmet with a faceguard. Initially, a parent or guardian could give consent for their child to NOT wear a helmet and that they would take full responsibility for any injury incurred. Fortunately, this option has been removed and the wearing of helmets is not the norm for under 18s.
Helmet Manufacturers Compliant with ICC Regulations
So, when buying a helmet, it is important to check that the helmet conforms to ICC regulations. The helmet should be labelled to show this, but this could be missing. Below is a list of helmet manufacturers that conform to ICC standards as of December 2019.
Gunn & Moore
Incredible Cricket Company
Stanfor Cricket Industries
Stealth Cricket Helmet
By visiting the manufacturers websites, you can check the specific helmets they manufacture to check that they conform to equipment regulations. When a new helmet is produced, the company must provide proof that their helmet meets this standard so that it can reduce head and facial injuries.
It is important to remember that wearing a head protector doesn’t prevent injuries, but they massively reduce the severity. Helmet regulations are changing all the time to maximise safety to cricketers in both domestic and professional settings. Keeping up to date with these changes maximises your chances of staying as safe as possible whilst playing cricket.