July 14, 2024

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Cricket Australia (CA) has made neck guards mandatory for Australian players at international and domestic games from October 1. This will imply to Steven Smith and David Warner also who have resisted from using it, as per ESPNcricinfo today.  One of the numerous changes made to CA’s playing rules in advance of the 2023–24 season is the requirement for neck guards. Another change is the elimination of the automatic six rule in Big Bash Leagues (BBL) when a ball hits the roof at Marvel Stadium; instead, umpires will use their discretion to determine whether the ball crossed the boundary.

Time limits on injury stoppages and streamlining stumping reviews were a few other changes introduced in the Big Bash Leagues to speed up the play.

Players are required to wear neck guards on their helmets when playing against fast bowlers and medium pacers. This rule does not apply when players are facing spinners. It also excludes close-in fielders and wicketkeepers.

Australian player Phillip Hughes was struck on the back of the neck by a bouncer while batting for the West End Redbacks in a Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 25, 2014. Following Phillip Hughes’ demise, neck protectors were designed.

Warner, a player in the game at the time Hughes was struck, wrote about why he would not wear neck or stem protectors.

“I do not and will not wear them. When I turn my head…wearing a StemGuard, it impedes my neck and restricts the movement of my neck when I turn around to face bowlers. I have tried a StemGuard and it digs into my neck. It is uncomfortable and is a distraction,” Warner said in 2016.

“With safety, the helmets are getting heavier. As a player, it is what you feel comfortable with. I go with being able to see better, and being able to move my neck,” he added.

Smith has likewise stayed away from wearing neck protection. He was not wearing one when Jofra Archer‘s blow to him during a Test game at Lord’s in 2019 left him with a concussion.

“I’ve tried them before and I tried them the other day when I was batting [in the nets] and I reckon my heart rate went up about 30 or 40 straight away,” Smith said on 2019. “I just feel claustrophobic. I compare it to being stuck in an MRI scan machine.

“They’re probably going to become mandatory, so I’m going to have to get used to them. I’m sure the more I wear them, the more I practice with them, my heart rate will come down and everything will be okay,” he said.

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