Mumbai: Former ICC umpire Daryl Harper has favoured the face-mask ahead of helmet to be used by the on-field umpires. Harper was reacting to the recent media report which quoted ICC umpire and training manager Simon Taufel saying that cricket umpires will start wearing helmets in future.
Speaking exclusively from Adelaide on Sunday morning, Harper said, "I believe the use of a face mask, as a baseball umpire wears behind home plate, is becoming a genuine option for cricket umpires. I favour the face mask ahead of the helmet because of its lighter weight, meaning less fatigue for the neck and shoulders than carrying the heavier and more cumbersome protective helmet.”
"It's worth noting that umpires are usually a generation older than the players involved in most matches. Some umpires can be two generations older. Realistically, reaction times will be longer as the years slip by. That means that evading a cricket ball travelling at high speed can become a dangerous undertaking.”
"At square leg I was struck twice in my umpiring career, both times in the middle of my chest. Both batsmen were Sri Lankan so there was probably a message I should have taken from that fact! Sanath Jayasuriya nailed me in St.Lucia when I was compelled to stand at point because of limited television cameras. Then, Tillakaratne Dilshan pulled ferociously in Galle on the final day of Muttiah Muralitharan's illustrious Test career and I was caught unaware. On both occasions, I was facing the batsman and didn't have time to turn my head. The batsmen were quick to inform me that I had cost them three runs by preventing the boundary, X-rays cleared me of any serious injury,” informed Harper.
"At the bowler's end, the most dangerous situation involves the chance of a deflection from the bowler, the non-striker or most likely from the stumps, usually within two metres of the umpire's standing position. The speeding ball can be deflected over that distance in a mere fraction of a second and even an elite athlete would struggle to avoid the missile.”
He further added, "I am sure wearing any headgear will be uncomfortable, and more importantly tiring. I don't foresee a time when it will be compulsory for umpires to wear a form of head protection. It should be by personal choice, so no doubt the experts will create more streamlined options in the same way that batting helmets evolved. They have advanced a long way since Tony Greig first paraded his helmet, looking as if he had just arrived at the ground on his Vespa motor cycle.”
"During my tenure as an Elite panel umpire, the subject of wearing protection on the field was never seriously considered or discussed in official meetings. It is an indication of how factors have changed so quickly that protection is currently on the agenda. Heavier bats and far more skilful stroke play with the proliferation of T20 means that umpires are more regularly required to 'dodge a bullet.”...