Umpire Abood officiates at BBL in helmet
Umpire Gerard Abood became the first on-field official to wear head protection in an Australian fixture during Melbourne Renegades' Big Bash League fixture against Perth Scorchers on Wednesday.
Abood said he had been weighing up protection for some time due to the increased power in the modern game. "I've had close shaves in the past, a couple have been real tight and they weigh on your mind," Abood told the Cricket Australia website. "I thought, 'What needs to happen before we do put one on?' I'd rather put one on just before I get hit than just after.
"The T20 game has evolved to the stage where guys are practising specifically whacking balls as hard as they can and it's just coming off faster and faster. As far as I'm concerned, it has just reached the point where it makes sense on every level, we're only 24 yards from the bat and if it's coming back at us pretty quickly there's not a hell of lot of time to move."
Abood wore a black Masuri batting helmet, but Cricket Australia, the ECB and ICC are working together to design umpire-specific protective gear.
Abood's move comes after his compatriot John Ward was struck on the head during a Ranji Trophy fixture between Punjab and Tamil Nadu on December 1. Pashchim Pathak, the Indian umpire who was stood at square leg when Ward - who is still recovering from concussion - was struck, had also recently worn head protection. In November 2014, Israeli umpire Hillel Awasker died after being hit by a ball during a match in Ashdod.