On Wednesday, New Zealand opener Jeet Raval, during a domestic one-day match at the Colin Maiden Park in Auckland, struck a powerful drive back at medium-pacer and Canterbury captain Andrew Ellis. The ball hit the bowler flush on the forehead—an inch or so above his right eye and ricocheted off to clear the long-on fence.
Even while accounting for the rather small straight boundaries at Auckland’s secondary domestic venue, this was a dramatic bit of footage. Ellis did take evasive action by putting his hands up to cover his face, but his reflexes weren’t quick enough.
Now, anyone getting hit on the head evokes a cringe from spectators after Phil Hughes’s death after the Australian batsman was struck on the back of the head. And Ellis did go off for tests after holding his head following the blow and being checked on by a very concerned Raval, who was playing for Auckland. The 35-year-old, who played 15 ODIs and 5 T20Is for the Kiwis with little success between 2012 and 2013, though passed the concussion test and returned to bowl six more overs.
In a rather poetic twist of fate, he did get rid of Raval eventually with a short ball that the left-hander hooked to a fielder in the deep. By then, the opener had scored 149 and hit three more sixes, none of which were unbelievably headed over the boundary ropes like his first.
Though Ellis got away with a minor shake-up and was able to return to action, there has been a growing concern of late over the safety of bowlers and umpires in the wake of the big bats and powerful batsmen of the modern era. We’ve already seen some umpires don a helmet while at the non-striker’s end while Australian Bruce Oxenford has designed his own safety device—which in an Indian context looks to be inspired from the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Shehenshah.
— The Niche Cache (@thenichecache) 21 February 2018
In December last year, Otago pacer Warren Barnes became the first bowler to don a helmet while bowling. He’d unveiled his customized headgear—which was reportedly resembled the biker helmet that former Kiwi wicket-keeper Peter McGlashan had devised and which Dinesh Karthik often is seen wearing—during a T20 match.
The rationale behind Barnes’ ingenuity is apparently the fact that his head drops down rather low in his follow-through which gives him no chance to escape from a full-blooded blow straight back at him. Barnes didn’t seem deterred by the helmet and returned figures of 3/33. He might well have also shown the way much like former Australian captain Graham Yallop did by pioneering the use of helmets for batsmen in the late 1970s.
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