Making an Impact: Cricket Helmet Safety and Beyond


So we started looking at head injuries in cricket some years ago. Cricket had undergone a bit of a change 2020 cricket had come along and the sorts of shots that players were attempting were changing, they becoming riskier and the number of head strikes appeared to be on the increase. On a few occasions we were noticing that players were suffering injuries despite wearing a helmet. Craig Ranson who was working for the International Cricket Council Medical Committee at that time started to collate some injury statistics that showed a number of very serious injuries from ball strikes to the facial region of players whilst wearing helmets. At that time we realised that we had a very old helmet system the standard hadn’t changed for some time probably ten years at least before that and we also probably didn’t understand enough about the properties of the cricket ball and the damage it might do so Loughborough Sports Technology Institute was our first port of call really to help us try and explore some of the science and understanding behind where the deficiencies in our knowledge were. The Technology Institute here, Andy Harland at Loughborough were heavily involved in the revision of a British Standard So that took place after a consultation, research, bringing the manufacturers together but at the same time also doing a lot of video analysis and our own technical work on understanding where grills and helmets were failing. And it was noted that there were a number of facial injuries around there either through the ball penetrating through the helmet or actually deforming the grill back onto the face so as a result of that, that area was identified as something we really needed to do something about. The research itself demonstrated what needed to change and then the British Standard in 2013 cemented that and then by the time it was implemented in 2014 we had all the manufacturers, they had changed to the new British Standard and since that time we have not had a single career-threatening facial injury with someone wearing the helmets so to see change has been absolutely fantastic. So Phil, who is a tragedy, hit the game really hard. I mean, it hit all of us, I know it hit Cricket Australia and indeed there was a coroner’s inquest into it. and I think what was clear was that whilst helmet technology has moved on you know, it still needed to evolve. And so since then ourselves, Loughborough Sports Technology Institute and Cricket Australia and a number of other partners and manufacturers have been really working hard to try and understand how to best make an additional component to the current helmet standard that protects the players. A number of players will now wear neck protectors and for a number of years, these neck protectors were not subject to any standard testing. So we have worked again with the British Standards and a number of partners to develop a test which has been included in the standard which requires all of those neck protectors to be certified so that the players and the authorities can be confident that these meet a safety standard to give confidence to those people that are wearing them. So the overall aim of this project is to make cricket as safe as possible. But what we are really looking to do is take those really uncommon events and try and prevent them even more. Whether that is on one end of the spectrum, death to other end of the spectrum so mild concussive type injuries. Looking to understand those better and just prevent that whole spectrum from occurring or at least mitigate some of the risk or severity of that. So the research that we’ve been undertaking in cricket has revealed some insights that may well be relevant to some other sports. Over the coming years we are gonna start to look at investigating different types of collisions that may be present in different sports and noticing the similarities so that we can share good practice across the sports but also identify key areas of difference where we might need to take different approaches to preventing injuries in the first place or diagnosing or treating injury and we will be working with medical partners across all of these sports to try and make a contribution to make sport a safer place. The work that Loughborough University have done for cricket over the last few years is very useful to us, there are many similarities we have many of the same issues, similar size balls, similar speed both using a hard wooden stick or bat so the potential for the injuries are similar and therefore a lot of the work that cricket has funded and Loughborough have undertaken potentially could be a benefit to hockey So absolutely we can’t rest on our laurels you know we think that the games are obviously there to be enjoyed and played but at the same time we need to mitigate risk so we want the welfare of players at every level, of coaches, of those within the game to be paramount. We don’t think the British Standard is necessarily the end of the story and actually we want to approach a new standard in a few years time that’s even higher so not just facial injuries and head injuries but actually minimising any form of injuries, such as a concussion or something that’s maybe a little more low grade.

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