Sydney: Compulsory neck guards on helmets for Australian cricketers are “not far away”, the national team’s medical chief said on Monday after a sickening blow felled Steve Smith during the second Ashes Test.
Australia have been at the forefront of pressing for better safety measures after the death of Phillip Hughes, who was hit on the base of the skull by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield game in 2014.
Following an independent investigation into the tragedy, Cricket Australia introduced new rules for concussion substitutes in domestic games.
These have now been adopted by the International Cricket Council and were used for the first time when Smith was replaced by Marnus Labuschagne on Sunday against England at Lord’s after medics ruled him unfit to carry on.
The inquest into Hughes’ death also recommended first-class players in Australia wear helmets made to British safety standards while batting against medium pace or fast bowling.
That included the use of specially designed neck guards, known as StemGuards.
But they are not compulsory and Smith, who collapsed to the ground face first after the vicious ball from Jofra Archer smacked into the side of his neck, in scenes reminiscent of the Hughes incident, was not wearing one.
He said afterwards they made him claustrophobic and uncomfortable.
Cricket Australia’s sports science and sports medicine chief Alex Kountouris said it was only a matter of time before they became mandatory, revealing the authorities and helmet manufacturers recently completed a major review....