December 24, 2009

The case for fear

With no fear of decapitation to conquer, how can a cricketer be truly brave?
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At Hays Paddock the other evening, the last Friday before Christmas, Kew's under-16s played Boroondara's under-16s. A creek gurgled, wildflowers grew, a dozen dog-walkers and their dogs went round and round. You had to peer closely for it to hit you that this was not the tranquil escape from the world that it seemed - helmets, three of them, on the heads of the boys in the middle.

Helmets? How strange. They played 21 overs a side. From start till stumps, the two batsmen plus the wicketkeeper wore blue helmets with white titanium bars across their faces, except when one of the batsmen was wearing a green helmet with white bars.

Kew batted first. Their score spluttered along, in bursts and silences, the most popular stroke a sort of shovel-sweep in a tight arc between mid-on and midwicket. After a while Boroondara's wicketkeeper, feeling clammy, extricated his head from the blue lid and white bars and barked advice at a couple of fielders. This was between overs. Then play resumed and the helmet went back on, even though the bowler, a smiley little fellow, was lobbing up full-pitched, looping straight-breaks that seldom beat the bat. After 21 overs the total was 6 for 114. Total hits on helmets? Zero.

In reply, Boroondara's batsmen began nervously - though not, as far as could be discerned from beyond the yellow boundary cones, because they feared possible brain damage or death. Balls in the second, sixth, ninth, 11th and 14th overs reared as high as the boys' bellybuttons. One ball jumped rib-high; one nearly neck-high. Another, released by a red-cheeked lad with a stutter at the top of his run-up, almost brushed a batsman's breastbone. The batsman, not noticeably terrified, took a giant swipe at it. At no stage was there any hint that heads might roll. Helmets nevertheless stayed rooted to skulls.

The boys of Hays Paddock punch one another's batting gloves and bowl a slower ball per over and generally take their lead from the men of Australia's Test team, who were at that moment stuck in tense struggle with West Indies on the other end of the continent. Marcus North and Brad Haddin were facing Sulieman Benn, a slow bowler, and they were wearing helmets, helmets with little bars across their faces.

At some juncture - and it happened so quietly that no one noticed - cricketers began donning helmets not so much to protect their heads, but out of habit.

Viv Richards, the last cricketer in Test history who could have worn a helmet and chose not to, ever, is now the last loud anti-helmet campaigner. Once, long ago, Viv said this: "[When you] cover a young cricketer in all kinds of padding and put him in to bat on a perfectly predictable pitch, there is no way he is going to develop the same degree of skill."

Viv was at it again recently, bewailing "all that King Arthur stuff" in an interview with Kevin Mitchell. The Guardian's Mike Selvey, cricket's wisest speaker of straight-out commonsense, called Viv mischievous, which was mischievous of Selvey, for Viv is not some jealous ex-champ foaming behind corporate-box perspex and drinking himself blotto over lunch. On this issue Viv is passionate and consistent. He expressed himself most eloquently in his second autobiography, Hitting Across the Line, in 1991, a time when metal and bars was still an unusual sight on 15-year-old heads. If we'd listened to Viv then, perhaps we'd be playing a different game now.

What Viv put forward was simply this: a case for fear. Growing up on diabolical Antiguan pitches, dressed in homemade cardboard pads, gave Viv the urge to play the hook shot. "To get rid of the thing." Being helmetless made him aware of danger, yes, but it also made him aggressive, instinctive, it made him feel brave, and out of this bravery was born confidence and the feeling that he, not the bowler, was the one in control. The helmet age knows no such dance between courage and fear. That dazzling tension has been struck out. Now, a bowler cannot maim a man. And with no fear - fear of decapitation - to conquer, how can a batsman be considered truly brave? "With the removal of that fear," said Viv, "a certain amount of excitement has gone."

Being helmetless made Richards aware of danger, yes, but it also made him aggressive, instinctive, it made him feel brave, and out of this bravery was born confidence and the feeling that he, not the bowler, was the one in control. The helmet age knows no such dance between courage and fear. That dazzling tension has been struck out

Eighteen years on, who'd dare pronounce the Master Blaster wrong? Helmets were supposed to embolden modern batsmen to hook balls off their eyeballs - the most exotic page in the textbook. Instead they mostly lurch on to the front foot, knowing no bouncer can scone them, breaking Bradman's Art of Cricket mantra about an initial back-foot movement being the best movement. And planting your weight on your front foot, your left shoulder tilting towards mid-off, is no place from which to attempt a hook shot.

Back when Viv's SS Jumbo was doing his talking for him, there was an incentive to hook bouncers to the fence: it might persuade the bowler to desist from aiming balls at your head. Not much urgent call for that now. Ensconced behind metal, batsmen prefer to weave and duck and wait for the percentage shot: drives, nudges, dainty little flicks. Inzamam-ul-Haq, Chris Gayle, Younis Khan and Virender Sehwag (twice) have erected Test triple-hundreds containing not one hooked four or six, according to Cricinfo's ball-by-ball commentaries.

If that sounds dreary, it has coincided with the world's pace stocks shrinking and the cricket ball apparently ceasing swinging - which, actually, might not be such a big coincidence. All those Haydenesque strides down the wicket leave bowlers 18 not 22 yards in which to swing it.

And another thing: it is hard to see people's faces, with everyone behind bars. Nothing can get in. And not much peeps out.

More exciting? Not a bit.

Get rid of them? "Foolhardy," says Selvey, "and very probably illegal under health and safety regulations."

But the players don't all wear helmets in Australian Rules, the rugbys or professional boxing, do they?

Probably things have gone too far for any kind of formal banning of helmets. It may not be too late for a gentle change in cricket culture. Hardest to convince might be the parents of small boys. Back at Hays Paddock, where not a hook stroke was seen, an incident took place near the end of Boroondara's failed run chase. At least an incident seemed to take place. No one could be sure. For there was no concern or commotion, and the fielders returned instantly to their positions. But there was a noise, a soft thud, and it looked like the batsman got caught in a front-foot tangle, and the ball, which was not particularly short or fast, appeared to rap his white titanium bars, low down.

Without his helmet on, the boy might have stepped back and hooked a six. Or he could have got a cut lip. Either way it would be something to see. And, as Viv has taught us, the boy with the cut lip would probably become a better cricketer.

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY joelucky on | December 27, 2009, 19:07 GMT

    Anyone who thinks that helmets are a sign of fear should volunteer to play without a helmet on the horrible pitch that was used for the last ODI between India and Sri Lanka. If they dare to play on that minefield and come back unhurt( and hopefully alive), we are willing to accept their arguments that helmets are a sign of fear. Wearing a helmet doesn't mean that a batsman is afraid. Its just like wearing an abdominal guard. I'm sure Sir Viv did wear one.

  • POSTED BY BRNUGGET on | December 27, 2009, 9:05 GMT

    Sir Viv is right. Cricket has lost much of its real charm. Today's players are a pampered lot wearing a lot of protective gear and play on pitches which are covered. I read some posts here saying 'CALLING SIR VIV a all-time great is A JOKE'. They are JOKES. Do they know what they are talking?

    Sir Viv played with only 2 protective gear abdomen guard and pads cum gloves and faces some of the fastest bowlers of all times, quicks like Lillee, Thommo, Imran, Pascoe, Hogg, Snow, Willis, Procter, Hadlee, Kapil, Akram, etc in tests and country and his own mates , Roberts, Holding, Daniel, Croft, Garner, Clarke, Late Marshall, etc in local WI leagues and counties & spinners like Qadir, Underwood, Bedi, Chandra, Pras. etc

    He played in Packer WORLD series which was the toughest cricket in history ag the fastest bowlers in history without helmet. Bowlers used to quake when he came in to bat and crowds swelled to watch him bat. He is the among the top 5 greatest of all times

  • POSTED BY BRNUGGET on | December 26, 2009, 16:09 GMT

    Some posts here question the greatness of Sir Viv. Its an insult to the game itself. His was the original master blaster, the destroyer of bowlers, who used to take quick bowlers head on WITHOUT HELMET and plaster them to all parts of the field. 99% of the players during his time wore helmets and other protective gears. The Packer World series was the toughest cricket and he played some terrifying quicks without helmet on the fastest of Australian pitches (which then were very quick) and destroyed them. He had several outstanding scores to his name.

    Viv was not a man for stats, he was an entertainer and a crowd puller. See some of his videos on YOU TUBE and make out. Among the greatest of all times , top 5 for all times. HE should be there in an all time great team for his sheer magnetic presence itself, the swagger, dare devilry and audacity.

    All modern greats SACHIN, Viru, Lara, Warne, Inzamam, Dravid, Laxman, Jayasuriya, Ponting, etc rate Sir Viv as their idol. Ask them ..

  • POSTED BY Aussieicon91 on | December 26, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    Helmets are the reason why batting averages have increased more then pitches, bats, smaller grounds, etc... Sure, people wore helmets in the 1990's but the players of the 2000's grew up wearing helmets as opposed to 1990's players who more then less saw it as an extra bit of protection.

  • POSTED BY Sorcerer on | December 26, 2009, 11:41 GMT

    Quite incredible that the one who listed the genuine fast bowlers Viv faced, forgot the mention of Lillie and Thomson with whom Richards had the most magnificent battles, fighting fire with fire, emerging mostly the winner.

    Helmets have taken out quite some sting from the armory of fast bowlers along with the scandalous bouncer restriction rule. But then, one can imagine where Sachin Tendulkar would have been right now had he not been wearing a helmet when a scorching 150+ kph short delivery from Shoaib in Karachi 2004 thudded onto his helmet visibly shaking the living daylights out of him...in any event he meekly got bowled the next over or so to Asif steill reeling from the ferocious impact.

  • POSTED BY Venkatb on | December 26, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    While I feel that players of today should wear helmets, given that the bouncer is a delivery of choice for bowlers - in baseball, helmets are standard practice even when a pitch at a batter's body automatically earns the batter a walk; I do whole-heartedly agree with Mr. Ryan. Batsmen, who otherwise may have had indistinguishable careers, record career averages of over 50 and yes, hit 200s and 300s - up until the 70s, except for select Indian batsmen such as Merchant, Hazare, Manjarekar, Umrigar, Viswanath and Gavaskar, the rest floundered against genuine pace -it begs the question as to whether Tendulkar and Dravid and the other Indian batting "heroes"minus helmets would have been routine journeymen with batting averages a clear 10-15 lower. Yuvraj Singh, despite all the armour, averages the same as Pataudi did 40 years ago and the latter battled Hall and Griffith, and that too with one eye. Wonder who the hero is here!

  • POSTED BY ghaski on | December 26, 2009, 3:49 GMT

    This is a stupid argument. It is like saying "you should stop wearing shoes so that your feet become stronger due to the cuts and bruises you endure and learn to avoid". Instead I would say you should wear the shoes and scale higher and more difficult mountains. Besides, you don't even offer any proof that the batsmen have become more timid since Sir Viv Richards' time. There maybe other solutions to improve batting skills like making the balls that swing better, spin better, and are faster or bouncier. You certainly have a convoluted sense of progress. You are willing to put 14 year old children in grave danger so that the art of cricket (might) profit - and not even back it up with some decent argument except that it is a very strong hunch you have.

  • POSTED BY Gwendoline on | December 25, 2009, 23:39 GMT

    I do seem to remember Richie Richardson able to wear a helmet and choosing not to. Also have a vivid memory of Zaheer Abaas walking out to bat in a floppy hat while all hell was breaking loose and everybody else wore helmets. But for that teeny oversight of the Ever Underrated Great Richie a very good article. Couldn't agree more.

  • POSTED BY bobletham on | December 25, 2009, 16:28 GMT

    I am surprised Christian Ryan and especially Viv Richards, his captain, forgot the accident to Phil Simmons, opening the batting without a helmet for WI v Gloucs in 1988. Hit by a bouncer he was rushed to Frenchays Hospital where emergency brain surgery saved his life. It so happened that Frenchays was one of the leading neurosurgical units in the UK. A few more minutes without cutting edge treatment and Simmons would have been dead. Where does bravery become foolhardiness? It was precisely because of a series of near-fatalities (Contractor 1962, Jackie Hendricks 1965, Roger Davis 1971, Graeme Watson 1972, Chatfield 1975) in the 60s and 70s that helmets came in.

  • POSTED BY AHappyMind on | December 25, 2009, 15:34 GMT

    Im sorry but I have to disagree with this article. If it was the absence of a helmet that makes batsman aggressive, why is it that the runs per over in test/odi cricket are higher in recent times? Why are there players such as Jayasuriya, Afridi and Sehwag who are even MORE aggressive than Sir Viv?

    Its quite like saying drive a car without a seat belt because it will make you go faster: safety is there to protect human beings who feel pain and may not have the reflexes of the great Viv Richards! Its easy to say ''dont wear a helmet'' sitting behind a computer but a different scenario when the bowler running towards you is a Malinga, Brett Lee or Dale Steyn.

  • POSTED BY joelucky on | December 27, 2009, 19:07 GMT

    Anyone who thinks that helmets are a sign of fear should volunteer to play without a helmet on the horrible pitch that was used for the last ODI between India and Sri Lanka. If they dare to play on that minefield and come back unhurt( and hopefully alive), we are willing to accept their arguments that helmets are a sign of fear. Wearing a helmet doesn't mean that a batsman is afraid. Its just like wearing an abdominal guard. I'm sure Sir Viv did wear one.

  • POSTED BY BRNUGGET on | December 27, 2009, 9:05 GMT

    Sir Viv is right. Cricket has lost much of its real charm. Today's players are a pampered lot wearing a lot of protective gear and play on pitches which are covered. I read some posts here saying 'CALLING SIR VIV a all-time great is A JOKE'. They are JOKES. Do they know what they are talking?

    Sir Viv played with only 2 protective gear abdomen guard and pads cum gloves and faces some of the fastest bowlers of all times, quicks like Lillee, Thommo, Imran, Pascoe, Hogg, Snow, Willis, Procter, Hadlee, Kapil, Akram, etc in tests and country and his own mates , Roberts, Holding, Daniel, Croft, Garner, Clarke, Late Marshall, etc in local WI leagues and counties & spinners like Qadir, Underwood, Bedi, Chandra, Pras. etc

    He played in Packer WORLD series which was the toughest cricket in history ag the fastest bowlers in history without helmet. Bowlers used to quake when he came in to bat and crowds swelled to watch him bat. He is the among the top 5 greatest of all times

  • POSTED BY BRNUGGET on | December 26, 2009, 16:09 GMT

    Some posts here question the greatness of Sir Viv. Its an insult to the game itself. His was the original master blaster, the destroyer of bowlers, who used to take quick bowlers head on WITHOUT HELMET and plaster them to all parts of the field. 99% of the players during his time wore helmets and other protective gears. The Packer World series was the toughest cricket and he played some terrifying quicks without helmet on the fastest of Australian pitches (which then were very quick) and destroyed them. He had several outstanding scores to his name.

    Viv was not a man for stats, he was an entertainer and a crowd puller. See some of his videos on YOU TUBE and make out. Among the greatest of all times , top 5 for all times. HE should be there in an all time great team for his sheer magnetic presence itself, the swagger, dare devilry and audacity.

    All modern greats SACHIN, Viru, Lara, Warne, Inzamam, Dravid, Laxman, Jayasuriya, Ponting, etc rate Sir Viv as their idol. Ask them ..

  • POSTED BY Aussieicon91 on | December 26, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    Helmets are the reason why batting averages have increased more then pitches, bats, smaller grounds, etc... Sure, people wore helmets in the 1990's but the players of the 2000's grew up wearing helmets as opposed to 1990's players who more then less saw it as an extra bit of protection.

  • POSTED BY Sorcerer on | December 26, 2009, 11:41 GMT

    Quite incredible that the one who listed the genuine fast bowlers Viv faced, forgot the mention of Lillie and Thomson with whom Richards had the most magnificent battles, fighting fire with fire, emerging mostly the winner.

    Helmets have taken out quite some sting from the armory of fast bowlers along with the scandalous bouncer restriction rule. But then, one can imagine where Sachin Tendulkar would have been right now had he not been wearing a helmet when a scorching 150+ kph short delivery from Shoaib in Karachi 2004 thudded onto his helmet visibly shaking the living daylights out of him...in any event he meekly got bowled the next over or so to Asif steill reeling from the ferocious impact.

  • POSTED BY Venkatb on | December 26, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    While I feel that players of today should wear helmets, given that the bouncer is a delivery of choice for bowlers - in baseball, helmets are standard practice even when a pitch at a batter's body automatically earns the batter a walk; I do whole-heartedly agree with Mr. Ryan. Batsmen, who otherwise may have had indistinguishable careers, record career averages of over 50 and yes, hit 200s and 300s - up until the 70s, except for select Indian batsmen such as Merchant, Hazare, Manjarekar, Umrigar, Viswanath and Gavaskar, the rest floundered against genuine pace -it begs the question as to whether Tendulkar and Dravid and the other Indian batting "heroes"minus helmets would have been routine journeymen with batting averages a clear 10-15 lower. Yuvraj Singh, despite all the armour, averages the same as Pataudi did 40 years ago and the latter battled Hall and Griffith, and that too with one eye. Wonder who the hero is here!

  • POSTED BY ghaski on | December 26, 2009, 3:49 GMT

    This is a stupid argument. It is like saying "you should stop wearing shoes so that your feet become stronger due to the cuts and bruises you endure and learn to avoid". Instead I would say you should wear the shoes and scale higher and more difficult mountains. Besides, you don't even offer any proof that the batsmen have become more timid since Sir Viv Richards' time. There maybe other solutions to improve batting skills like making the balls that swing better, spin better, and are faster or bouncier. You certainly have a convoluted sense of progress. You are willing to put 14 year old children in grave danger so that the art of cricket (might) profit - and not even back it up with some decent argument except that it is a very strong hunch you have.

  • POSTED BY Gwendoline on | December 25, 2009, 23:39 GMT

    I do seem to remember Richie Richardson able to wear a helmet and choosing not to. Also have a vivid memory of Zaheer Abaas walking out to bat in a floppy hat while all hell was breaking loose and everybody else wore helmets. But for that teeny oversight of the Ever Underrated Great Richie a very good article. Couldn't agree more.

  • POSTED BY bobletham on | December 25, 2009, 16:28 GMT

    I am surprised Christian Ryan and especially Viv Richards, his captain, forgot the accident to Phil Simmons, opening the batting without a helmet for WI v Gloucs in 1988. Hit by a bouncer he was rushed to Frenchays Hospital where emergency brain surgery saved his life. It so happened that Frenchays was one of the leading neurosurgical units in the UK. A few more minutes without cutting edge treatment and Simmons would have been dead. Where does bravery become foolhardiness? It was precisely because of a series of near-fatalities (Contractor 1962, Jackie Hendricks 1965, Roger Davis 1971, Graeme Watson 1972, Chatfield 1975) in the 60s and 70s that helmets came in.

  • POSTED BY AHappyMind on | December 25, 2009, 15:34 GMT

    Im sorry but I have to disagree with this article. If it was the absence of a helmet that makes batsman aggressive, why is it that the runs per over in test/odi cricket are higher in recent times? Why are there players such as Jayasuriya, Afridi and Sehwag who are even MORE aggressive than Sir Viv?

    Its quite like saying drive a car without a seat belt because it will make you go faster: safety is there to protect human beings who feel pain and may not have the reflexes of the great Viv Richards! Its easy to say ''dont wear a helmet'' sitting behind a computer but a different scenario when the bowler running towards you is a Malinga, Brett Lee or Dale Steyn.

  • POSTED BY pubudu on | December 25, 2009, 14:54 GMT

    i don't think helmets should be banned, but i think helmets helped greatly in improving batting. some batsmen nowadays who can't even score 10 runs when ball bounce above waist height scores triple hundreds with ease. and there are some openers who can not play hook. so i think viv richards and ryan have a point

  • POSTED BY zak123kaif on | December 25, 2009, 12:25 GMT

    Just that Viv Richards didn't wore helmet does not make him all time gratest batsman or the bravest cricketer.

  • POSTED BY mmatahaere on | December 25, 2009, 10:46 GMT

    We should wear a helmet, its about safety. You can be hard, but even the hardest fall, do a quick history lesson. I agree with the idea about what I think is an over-reliance on protective equipment though. Have you batted in the nets with no pads on before? It makes you hawk the ball even that bit more. There could be some scope for our young players to learn, whilst training in supervised conditions, without all the protective equipment.

    ChandraKS - Viv Richards is a legend. To say he's not, is cricket sacrilege. He is a legend because his peers in the era he played in, said he was a legend. Full Stop. It wasnt just people in the Windies who said he was a legend, all the great players said so - Chapples, Benaud, Bradman, Greig, Botham, Hadlee and the list goes on. He has the numbers to back it up AND he played without a helmet, with a bat much smaller than we use nowadays and on seamer friendly pitches. Not some batsmens paradies we see in India nowadays.

  • POSTED BY CricFan78 on | December 25, 2009, 10:30 GMT

    Sehwag would have been full of fear if he wasnt wearing a helmet at Galle or Mumbai ... oh sorry I forgot he didnt need one while facing Murali and Mendis anyways.

  • POSTED BY Theena on | December 25, 2009, 8:00 GMT

    I think there's a case for the skills of batsmen not being truly tested in this day and age, especially his backfoot technique not being scrutinized as intensely as it would have, say, in the 80s and before. The new age Indian batsmen for instance - the Rainas, Singhs and Sharmas - are out and out front foot players who, I think, would have struggled if the bouncer rule hadn't been implemented; that or they would have been forced to work on it more diligently and close an obvious technical flaw.

    Coming to the point, I think its unrealistic to ask for a ban or regulating the use of the helmet. There will be plenty of folks who will find the notion nonsensical, not to mention illegal. I would prefer a relaxing of the bouncer rule to start with to redress the balance between bat and ball. If you've seen that Akthar bouncer re-arranging Gary Kirsten's face then you'll be convinced that a bouncer at high pace will scare the daylights out of anyone, helmet-adorned or otherwise.

  • POSTED BY Theena on | December 25, 2009, 6:58 GMT

    I think there's a case for the skills of batsmen not being truly tested in this day and age, especially his backfoot technique not being scrutinized as intensely as it would have, say, in the 80s and before. The new age Indian batsmen for instance - the Rainas, Singhs and Sharmas - are out and out front foot players who, I think, would have struggled if the bouncer rule hadn't been implemented; that or they would have been forced to work on it more diligently and close an obvious technical flaw.

    Coming to the point, I think its unrealistic to ask for a ban or regulating the use of the helmet. There will be plenty of folks who will find the notion nonsensical, not to mention illegal. I would prefer a relaxing of the bouncer rule to start with to redress the balance between bat and ball. If you've seen that Akthar bouncer re-arranging Gary Kirsten's face then you'll be convinced that a bouncer at high pace will scare the daylights out of anyone, helmet-adorned or otherwise.

  • POSTED BY mcsundar on | December 25, 2009, 6:47 GMT

    Most of the mordern day cricketers wear helmets. In fact, none of the batsmen play without heltmet these days. That doesnt make them any less courageous. Just bcos a Tendulkar or a Ponting wears a helmet doesnt make them ordinary. Look what happened to Ponting in the last match, in spite of wearing all those protective gears. Its a game after all and not a war. P.S: Even pads and abdomen guards are protective gears, so why did Viv use them?

  • POSTED BY santhoshkudva on | December 25, 2009, 3:15 GMT

    i fail to understand what is all this big fuss about viv not wearing enough protection. i respect the man for that, he could be the last person to do it, but he is certainly not the first. batsmen before him have worn minimum protection. simply because he hailed from the era when batsmen STARTED WEARING HELMETS and he chose to look the other way hardly makes him superior to his predecessors. sobers never wore a box, beat that viv? and i believe carl hooper never wore a thigh guard. why dont you emulate that? and your own teammate bounced a 40+ brian close five times in an over. and these men never crowed about their bravery!

  • POSTED BY J_Jay on | December 25, 2009, 2:34 GMT

    The most ridiculous line of thinking for a sports writer. Ryan, things evolve and this is how they evolve. I am sure initially cricket was played without pads, gloves and boxes. We have no need to go back to past, because then we wouldn't know where to stop.

  • POSTED BY arakicho on | December 25, 2009, 0:07 GMT

    It is to protect the head. Simple as that. I remember reading in John Wright's book "Christmas in Rarotonga" that for him a helmet was more important than a box because over the course of a life time he would use his head more than his balls.

  • POSTED BY ChandraKS on | December 25, 2009, 0:06 GMT

    I wonder why Mr. Richards is viewed as some sort of legend. I saw Richards play and I agree he was an entertaining batsman. But a 'Legend'? That I am not sure. He has inflated his averages by scoring most of his runs against weak English and Indian teams (62 and 51). His performance against much stronger bowling attacks Aus and Pak is not fantastic (44 and 42). He has gathered more centuries per test match at home (0.23) as opposed to away (0.17) and his performance as captain is signficantly lower than when he was not a capain (45 v 53).

    What all of this tells you that he is clearly an above average batsman, but calling him a legend is a big joke...

  • POSTED BY Vkarthik on | December 24, 2009, 20:41 GMT

    When i was in school i never wore helmet. Infact i just used left pad and left glove leaving the right hand, right leg free. Pads, helmets, gloves restrict your movement clearly. I think they wear at the international level just to avoid getting hit accidentally. It could happen because of a beamer as well. Trust me wearing helmet won't make you a better batsman. Infact not wearing helmet help you sight the ball better. Sunil Gavaskar didn't wear helmet for very long time before he got the skull cap made. I still remember the beamer from Akhtar targetting Dhoni's head. Luckily he evaded. Imagine him not wearing a helmet and got hit. He could have probably died there. Not worth it. Isn't it.

  • POSTED BY sathish4 on | December 24, 2009, 20:31 GMT

    Bravery is for soldiers. Protecting yourself against severe injury is not a sign of weakness in a sport. Sachin should be measured by his technique and achievements, they aren't there to be downplayed because his helmet comes with a gear.

  • POSTED BY sathish4 on | December 24, 2009, 20:29 GMT

    Why did Viv Richards wear an abdomen guard and pads? He's a real man, isn't he? Should've done without. Is Richards going to speak out against chemotherapy for cancer also because real men didn't do it that way back in the day?

  • POSTED BY ab1968 on | December 24, 2009, 20:17 GMT

    Wish Viv would stop with this hard man stuff.

    On a whim, I just looked up Richards' average against the two teams with even a half decent pace attack in the 70s and 80s: against Aus he averages 44 and against Pakistan it drops to 42. Bob Willis and Hadlee were the only other pacemen of note around the world.

    So, clearly, he made his runs against the rage of Derek Pringle and Karsan Ghavri - no wonder he did not need a helmet.

  • POSTED BY Stevo_ on | December 24, 2009, 18:59 GMT

    Christian, Couldn't agree more, I used to coach a U15 side and couldn't believe the amount of padding they wore and all players owned a helmet. I understand wearing a helmet when you are a professional cricketer but as an junior or senior amateur its a bit of a joke. Maybe the only exception is the wicket keeper standing up, but a mouth guard should suffice. No junior ( and rarely any senior) bowls fast enough to warrant a helmet, and if you top edge one into your own gob, its your own fault and you'll play the shot better next time.

  • POSTED BY RavindraV on | December 24, 2009, 18:42 GMT

    I'm sorry, but I think we're not speaking the same language. This is not a Roman coliseum (spell wrong?). It is not a test of bravery, it is one of skill. I for one wouldn't want to watch a game where the batsmen are afraid of decapitation.

  • POSTED BY gochargers999 on | December 24, 2009, 18:16 GMT

    "Or he could have got a cut lip. Either way it would be something to see." - i suggest we have someone bowl at you at 90mph and then enjoy the spectacle of seeing you have a cut lip.....or may be even a cracked jaw or skull - that would be so much more fun!!

  • POSTED BY CBJUK on | December 24, 2009, 18:15 GMT

    Common sense it's easier guarding your legs than your head? I'd love to understand the mystifying logic behind that comment and the suggestion that Viv perhaps shouldn't have worn pads, particularly given that we're talking about cricket.

    Seriously though, it's all pretty simple stuff.....

    In junior cricket, parents don't want to see their kids hurt! Many 'hard' sports around the world are suffering at grass-roots level because parents are reluctant to place their children in any form of 'danger'. This isn't going to change.

    When you get into a decent standard of cricket it just makes sense to wear a helmet.

    Much of what Viv says does ring true, from the technical viewpoint to the psychological. You soon learn to respect the ball if you get hit a few times, and typically you adapt and improve, that's the underlying element here.

    The fact that Viv is so outspoken about it just annoys people because they see it as arrogance.

    However, keepers wearing helmets is pathetic ;-)

  • POSTED BY Blacklung on | December 24, 2009, 18:13 GMT

    Why do people insist Viv faced no fast bowlers? Have they never heard of Lillee, Thomson, Pascoe, etc? He did quite well against all of them.

    People who don't know cricket history seem to think Sunny Gavaskar scored THIRTEEN 100's against the Windies' pace quartet. Sunny scored 4 100's in 1971, BEFORE the pace quartet He also scored 4 100's in 1978, when the pace quartet was playing for Packer.

    That leaves 5 100's against the quartet at an avg. of 47, which is good, not great.

  • POSTED BY pangebaaj on | December 24, 2009, 17:12 GMT

    Agreed that absence of helmets provide a thrilling edge, but then no abdominal protector will provide the highest thrill

  • POSTED BY karthikk on | December 24, 2009, 16:46 GMT

    Helmets were added to protect batsmen's heads, to avoid things happening like they did with Nari Contractor, for instance. If you don't want to protect your head, why protect your legs, or even your privates with a box? Get rid of all of them! No. If a cricket ball of reasonable speed hits that boy on his mouth, he will probably suffer a little more than a cut lip - a spinner could cut your lip. The point of protection is not to make cricket easier, it is to protect lives and careers. The fact that cricket seems to have become easier is down to other factors, not helmets. We see cricket to watch the duel between bat and ball. Make pitches fast (like Perth of yesteryear), remove the 2-per-over bouncer rule, give bowlers back their freedom, and then see how interesting cricket gets. I don't think any batsman can plonk his foot forward when a fast bowler aims short stuff at his throat on quick pitches. Stop blaming the helmet, it is merely a scapegoat.

  • POSTED BY pacelikefire on | December 24, 2009, 16:38 GMT

    Obviously it makes sense to protect ones brains - few of us have the reflexes of Viv Richards. That said, no-one's mentioned pitches. Having played most of my club (decent standard) in pre-helmet days, and faced such as Ricky Elcock, Butch White and Bob Cottom at different times, with no more head protection than a sunhat, I was not a'feard of short balls on pitches with even bounce - it was the ones that leapt off a length on dodgy pitches that hurt people. Given helmets no one at first class level should get out to short balls at all given there are techniques (including the hook) to deal with them. Time was in Tests that people like Jack Ikin and Ken Mackay preferred to let the ball hit them than run the risk of gloving it to gully. And in the end helmets are not a true protection - Andy Lloyd in 1984 is an example. During the Bodyline series only one batter was hit on the head and that was from a mishit off the bat. A good insight is Mike Athertons recent blog on the subject.

  • POSTED BY santhoshkudva on | December 24, 2009, 15:18 GMT

    viv, why did you wear pads? common sense says it is easier guarding your legs than your head.

  • POSTED BY fahadist on | December 24, 2009, 14:42 GMT

    I think you bring up a good point for school cricket atleast. This is the place where foundations are made and besides the ballers aren't really that express at this age to cause fatal blow. It is true that once it is in your head that a short ball can be balled at you and can hurt you, planting the front foot firmly down is really not the most intelligent thing to do. I played only couple of times on hard cement surface where even a moderately paced baller can get one above your shoulders. But that experience brought the sense in me to be more responsive of the ball rather than plant the front foot as the first motion. I am not a great batter but I definitely know what to do with a short one when I get it.

    Perhaps what most of the readers are commenting on is international cricket. At that age, the instincts have been made and the balling is fast enough to cause serious injury.

  • POSTED BY www.CricketMontreal.ca on | December 24, 2009, 13:24 GMT

    I agree with hoodbu, this topic makes interesting reading but very shallow conversation. When we stop for a moment an think that we are willingly taking a safer option and even considering working without it, I say go back to basics. Why did we come up with the word prevention? Here are a few reasons why helmets are important, eyes, nose, teeth, and brain. May the first person willing to give up any one of those organs bat without a helmet from here in. End of discussion.

  • POSTED BY bkempster on | December 24, 2009, 11:26 GMT

    As a junior in the late '70's, early '80's, I didn't wear a helmet at that level, or senior level once I'd started to play adult cricket. Viv is absolutely right - the need to develop technique and natural reaction time in order to get yourself in the right position to play the ball is now diminished by the wearing of helmets. These days, generally, if you get hit, it don't hurt. Parents are now too frightened to see Little Johnny with a bruise for fear that they will be accused of "tampering" and, as a result, Little Johnny goes out to bat with pads, thigh pad, box, arm guard, chest pad, lid, gloves - the ball travelling at a mere 5 mph which hits him doesn't register. When Little Johnny then steps up to play adult cricket, he's completely under prepared in facing balls at the 60, 70 and 80 mph mark. Club cricket will, certainly, become a joke in the years to come.

  • POSTED BY ScriptWriter on | December 24, 2009, 10:45 GMT

    There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. The helmet debate crosses it. Since other users have already given examples of why it is suicidal to not wear protective gear, I shall not re-iterate.

    But a few of us would still be able to recall that ugly incident in West Indies when Bishen Singh Bedi had to declare the Indian Innings because the Windies fast bowlers were dishing out short pitched bowling to the Indian tail. That is hardly sporting. Protective gear ensures this kind of unsportsmanlike conduct does not repeat itself.

    All said and done, cricket is a sport played by few for the enjoyment of many. It is not war where a soldier has to prove his bravery by laying down his life.

  • POSTED BY HLANGL on | December 24, 2009, 9:33 GMT

    Answering ankur_asia, True... Aravida De Silva was feerless when it comes to hooking & pulling, but he opted to wear the helmets in most cases. The closest one I can remember who opted to handle all the musics of pace bowlers without helmets, during post Viv rea, is quite iornically Richard's team mate & very near namesake Richie Richardson. He was also a fearless player when it comes to the short pitced bowling, though during the very latter part of his career, during 95-96 era, he opted to wear the helmets.

  • POSTED BY PDD1 on | December 24, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    This is by far one of the most senseless articles I have ever read on cricinfo. I actually registered/created an account here to be able to say this. Pathetic.

  • POSTED BY 1983worldcup on | December 24, 2009, 9:19 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar's skull cap, let me tell you as one who has one of those, is a flimsy piece of fibre which would cause more damage than save anyone - for an opener to face the fearsome pace quartet and score 13 hundreds against them, he beyond compare as well - no doubt Sir Viv was a great bat, but he wasn't the only one..., Sorcerer what is it that you dont like about Tendulkar? Looks to me that you havent seen much of his game...

  • POSTED BY Rohan1 on | December 24, 2009, 9:01 GMT

    cricfan24 has destroyed your argument with a single swipe. After all...."With a BOX on and no fear of castration to conquer, how can a cricketer be truly brave?" LOL

  • POSTED BY o-bomb on | December 24, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Christian I think you are seriously wrong on this one. Helmets are not worn "to embolden modern batsmen to hook off their eyeballs". They are worn to protect the batsmen and in some cases wicket keepers from getting hurt should they get hit on the head. A few years ago a friend of mine received a skull fracture from being hit on the head. When I go out to bat I wear a helmet, because I don't wish to suffer the same fate. I dare say most cricketers at any level wear one for a similar reason. I don't believe cricket is worse off due to the wearing of helmets.

  • POSTED BY scnzzz on | December 24, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    Using Viv as an example is shoddy - he didn't have to routinely face up to the likes of Walsh, Marshall, Bishop....et al. Gavaskar is a better example - at least he had to deal with the WI pace attack in their prime, without the benefit of a helmet. Poor Viv had to deal with the "express" pace of, oh, Kapil, Wasim, Imran, Hadlee - not a one who sent screaming bouncers by at 140+ three balls out of four.

    Ryan complains that Sehwag didn't hook a single boundary in his triples. What was Sehwag's Test strike rate again (never mind ODIs)? Now what was Viv's? Oh yeah. I thought so. So the hook shot is out. Big deal. Enter the carves over point, the lifts over third man, etc etc. Different strokes for different folks.

    And seriously? Nari Contractor. Raman Lamba, as several others here have mentioned. The list goes on. Next, Viv will be suggesting that soldiers improve their battlefield senses by drilling with live ammo. What doesn't kill you makes you better, eh, Viv?

  • POSTED BY bliksempie on | December 24, 2009, 8:09 GMT

    Richie Richardson is more of a contemporary than Sir Viv, and he never wore a helmet either.

  • POSTED BY santoshjohnsamuel on | December 24, 2009, 8:05 GMT

    Absolutely agree. Without helmets, the primal nature of the contest takes a beating -- and the hook and pull shots have suffered as a result of this overprotection. Ponting (a master of the hook and pull) and Dravid (a master of the pull) are possibly the only batsmen who employ these shots. While a rule mandating helmets would not be possible, i wish some of the current greats would voluntarily give up the helmet -- and that could set the trend. But something also tells me that we'll have to wait for a very long time before someone wants to emulate Viv on this one.

  • POSTED BY MuchMore on | December 24, 2009, 7:48 GMT

    I think you don't get a simple concept - It is JUST a game. Why risk your well being for a game?

  • POSTED BY ankur_asia on | December 24, 2009, 7:21 GMT

    how can u not mention Aravinda de Silva while in this article...

    post Sir Viv...aravinda was the only one who has been fearless of whatever bowlers dished out to him...not to mention the bowlers in his era...mc grath..ambrose walsh bishop, pollock, donald, wasim n waqar..n other s who used to dish well directed short stuff....

    i feel in his era he was the best batsmen against short pitched bowling....n he has several such knocks to prove that....his unique helmet...without a grill was his signature...

    really felt bad when i didnt noticed aravinda's name here...

  • POSTED BY vijee on | December 24, 2009, 7:19 GMT

    Very nice article Christian, and some thoughtful words by Viv too! As it is said, the pull or hook usually comes only by instinct and not coaching, not especially when you are taught to "put your foot forward".

    I'm not much of a cricketer. I mostly played tennis ball and occasionally "red leather" ball cricket. Even then we mostly played without helmets, because we didn't have any in our school. Despite this, most of the better players in the team rarely played a pull or a hook. I met coaches who would refuse to teach kids to pull or hook. The best way to handle a short ball for them would be to leave it alone by bending backwards or ducking. I was one of the few who would instinctively latch on to a short one and pull them over mid-wicket or wherever the ball went to :). It was fun watching the ball sail above the heads and sometimes land between fielders :).

    How much I miss all that short-pitched bowling and those awesome shots by Viv & Co. !

  • POSTED BY sachinimt on | December 24, 2009, 6:01 GMT

    Here are some other things that we can do to make the sportspersons truly "brave": a) The hockey goalkeepers should not be allowed to wear all their paraphernalia. b) Ask the marathon runners not to wear shoes. c) Why wear those huge gears in Ice Hockey? d) Should ask the racers to remove their helmets in cycling, bike racing and why just stop there - maybe even Formula 1?

    Dude....its just a sport at the end of it. Remember someone called as Raman Lamba in the 80s????

  • POSTED BY CricFan24 on | December 24, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    I think a similar argument can be made for pre and post BOX usage in cricket. Never mind decapitation, the batsmen who played without a BOX risked effective castration as well. So if this thing is all about "bravery" then why on earth did Viv and co. wear a BOX?...surely his and other batsmen techniques were good enough to get that big broad bat amidships the ball and the family jewels?

  • POSTED BY Sorcerer on | December 24, 2009, 5:38 GMT

    Mollycoddling of batsmen and constraining the fast bowlers has been an ongoing phenomenon in Test cricket now for twenty-odd years. Ask anyone who does not belong to WI or India which innings would he prefer to watch - the orginal Master Blaster Viv's ton containing his trademark ferocious assaults on the pace bowlers or a ducking and weaving percentage-shot accumulation show by Tendulkar.

  • POSTED BY Optimistix on | December 24, 2009, 5:28 GMT

    Yeah, right - if we had listened to Viv, we might well have had a few kids with concussions. Much as I admire him, I think he and (especially) you are being dumb on this issue. Young cricketers are not bulls or matadors, to indulge people's bloodlust.

    "Ensconced behind metal, batsmen prefer to weave and duck and wait for the percentage shot: drives, nudges, dainty little flicks." - ever seen Gavaskar bat? Not hooking is more a question of one's general attitude than anything. Bradman avoided hitting in the air, as you must know. Do you think it had anything to do with a lack of bravery? Obviously not - unless you count the fear of getting out as something which makes one less brave.

    A bowler like Steyn, Lee or Bond is still very, very dangerous, and people can get badly hurt even with protective equipment - maybe you should check out photos of injured cricketers from the 90s, like Mike Gatting with a broken nose, or several players with bruised bodies after facing the Windies.

  • POSTED BY badsac on | December 24, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    Recently in a first grade game in the medium sized town I live in the opposition was playing a 14 year old. This young fella had a solid game, driving and working off his pads nicely. After moving into double figures our captain threw the ball to a guy known to be a bit erratic. 2 balls passed uneventfully, then our bowler accidentally put one in a bit shorter and sent one past him at chest height. The young fella didn't seem to know what to do with it. The umpire said something to the bowler. Next ball was shorter and passed head height, and the young fella looked perplexed. The umpire responded to this by warning that another short ball would have the bowler taken off. What chance is there for the young fella to develop a full game if even the officials dont allow him to be tested? When I was 14 playing in the same comp helmet free, I got bounced mercilessly. I don't think it was coincidence that I was an excellent hooker, nor did I ever get hit in the head.

    Viv is right.

  • POSTED BY doesitmatter on | December 24, 2009, 4:19 GMT

    what the author or even for the matter Viv Richards dont get or dont mention is how poor the pitches off late are ... Auhtor mentions this line in the article "Growing up on diabolical Antiguan pitches" that exactly the reason why the Viv had to fend the ball near his throat.. good or steepling bounce comes based on the nature of the pitch .I can gaurantee if the pitches are pacier and if the batsmen gets hit on the green or blue helment or white or yellow grill of the helments he will still tremble with fear..bent grill will have the same affect as the cut lip i am pretty sure..So my point is get the pitches right but keep the helment because we want batsmen to be fearful not die..ask langer..

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | December 24, 2009, 4:13 GMT

    I understand Mike Atherton had held this line when Sachin Tendulkar had achieved the landmark of having completed 20 years in international cricket. If it has indeed been suggested by him I think it was downright churlish. Just as this article on the subject of courage and helmets read protection is. I do not agree that batting without a helmet in this day of constant exposure to fast bowling is being courageous. It is just being foolhardy. Barring Viv Richards and for a major part of his career, Sunil Gavaskar, I have not come across any great batsmen in the post 80s who went into bat without a helmet. In fact it might next be suggested that not wearing an abdomen guard when batting is even more so. I wonder if indulging in hypothesis is really worth it. It could be said that Bradman never wore a helmet. So he was really courageous. The fact of the matter is that when Jardine and Larwood resorted to bodyline, the Australians were up in arms. Self protection is as vital as strokeplay.

  • POSTED BY hoodbu on | December 24, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    What a ridiculous article! The problem with cricket nowadays is not that batsmen wear helmets all the time. The problem lies with the batting tracks and fast outfields. Who in their right mind would let their kid get hit on the head, the most valuable body part, when helmets are available? You can get hit anywhere else and move on with life, but not in the head.

    Remember Raman Lamba?

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | December 24, 2009, 4:00 GMT

    Not everyone as physically strong like VIV and to play hook shot you need to lift your bat in quick speed , Non athletes and touch players who can't able to do that consistently. I think helmet is fine , we need more bouncers still though. Helmet or not , you still can hit the helmet instead of head. You can't have 6 bouncer rule but should allow 3 bouncer to remind the batsman that bowler has equal chance in the over to knock him out.

    Cricket is more batsman oriented , so more spectators watch it. I still think with amount of armor sachin wears , bowlers has no chance of getting him out when you make bowlers impotent by removing fast bowlers armoury , the bouncers.

    There can be only one VIV richards. Period. There can be better skilled people for sure but no one can put fear on the bowler like VIV. Hayden and Gilchrist were close to Richards on flat tracks. Sehwag does score fast but he do not put fear in the bowler because sehwag is greatest entertainer more than a great batsman.

  • POSTED BY Cricmike on | December 24, 2009, 3:54 GMT

    Tell Craig Cummings there's nothing to fear with helmets on. He only had his jaw shattered by a Dale Steyn bouncer. The fear factor is reduced but there's still potential for serious injury even with helmets. I don't associate bravery with batting anyway. A well executed pull/hook is the same thing with or without a helmet from a pure batting ability viewpoint. Helmets also allow outrageous shots like the Dilscoop. Time to stop living in the past. I don't follow other sports as closely as I do cricket but it seems to me that many cricket followers are too steeped in nostalgia to embrace the present/future.

  • POSTED BY Kunal-Talgeri on | December 24, 2009, 3:45 GMT

    Maybe, the IPL should announce a $1-million reward to the batsman who plays a whole season of T20 (including Champions Trophy) without a helmet. Only that can get international cricketers thinking about batting without helmets. :-) I appreciate the perils associated in doing so, but when I watch Gooch playing the Windies in their bacyard, it is a far cry from watching the best of a Dravid or Ponting against current attacks on relatively flatter racks--with helmets on. I am a fan of all the aforementioned batsmen, but find myself holding Gooch in greater regard. Even Sunny's Test record is precious, though he's been overtaken by so many batters! Test cricket has been devalued... So, Mr Modi, throw some more cash into the ring. And give the bowlers something to hit at. :-)

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY Kunal-Talgeri on | December 24, 2009, 3:45 GMT

    Maybe, the IPL should announce a $1-million reward to the batsman who plays a whole season of T20 (including Champions Trophy) without a helmet. Only that can get international cricketers thinking about batting without helmets. :-) I appreciate the perils associated in doing so, but when I watch Gooch playing the Windies in their bacyard, it is a far cry from watching the best of a Dravid or Ponting against current attacks on relatively flatter racks--with helmets on. I am a fan of all the aforementioned batsmen, but find myself holding Gooch in greater regard. Even Sunny's Test record is precious, though he's been overtaken by so many batters! Test cricket has been devalued... So, Mr Modi, throw some more cash into the ring. And give the bowlers something to hit at. :-)

  • POSTED BY Cricmike on | December 24, 2009, 3:54 GMT

    Tell Craig Cummings there's nothing to fear with helmets on. He only had his jaw shattered by a Dale Steyn bouncer. The fear factor is reduced but there's still potential for serious injury even with helmets. I don't associate bravery with batting anyway. A well executed pull/hook is the same thing with or without a helmet from a pure batting ability viewpoint. Helmets also allow outrageous shots like the Dilscoop. Time to stop living in the past. I don't follow other sports as closely as I do cricket but it seems to me that many cricket followers are too steeped in nostalgia to embrace the present/future.

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | December 24, 2009, 4:00 GMT

    Not everyone as physically strong like VIV and to play hook shot you need to lift your bat in quick speed , Non athletes and touch players who can't able to do that consistently. I think helmet is fine , we need more bouncers still though. Helmet or not , you still can hit the helmet instead of head. You can't have 6 bouncer rule but should allow 3 bouncer to remind the batsman that bowler has equal chance in the over to knock him out.

    Cricket is more batsman oriented , so more spectators watch it. I still think with amount of armor sachin wears , bowlers has no chance of getting him out when you make bowlers impotent by removing fast bowlers armoury , the bouncers.

    There can be only one VIV richards. Period. There can be better skilled people for sure but no one can put fear on the bowler like VIV. Hayden and Gilchrist were close to Richards on flat tracks. Sehwag does score fast but he do not put fear in the bowler because sehwag is greatest entertainer more than a great batsman.

  • POSTED BY hoodbu on | December 24, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    What a ridiculous article! The problem with cricket nowadays is not that batsmen wear helmets all the time. The problem lies with the batting tracks and fast outfields. Who in their right mind would let their kid get hit on the head, the most valuable body part, when helmets are available? You can get hit anywhere else and move on with life, but not in the head.

    Remember Raman Lamba?

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | December 24, 2009, 4:13 GMT

    I understand Mike Atherton had held this line when Sachin Tendulkar had achieved the landmark of having completed 20 years in international cricket. If it has indeed been suggested by him I think it was downright churlish. Just as this article on the subject of courage and helmets read protection is. I do not agree that batting without a helmet in this day of constant exposure to fast bowling is being courageous. It is just being foolhardy. Barring Viv Richards and for a major part of his career, Sunil Gavaskar, I have not come across any great batsmen in the post 80s who went into bat without a helmet. In fact it might next be suggested that not wearing an abdomen guard when batting is even more so. I wonder if indulging in hypothesis is really worth it. It could be said that Bradman never wore a helmet. So he was really courageous. The fact of the matter is that when Jardine and Larwood resorted to bodyline, the Australians were up in arms. Self protection is as vital as strokeplay.

  • POSTED BY doesitmatter on | December 24, 2009, 4:19 GMT

    what the author or even for the matter Viv Richards dont get or dont mention is how poor the pitches off late are ... Auhtor mentions this line in the article "Growing up on diabolical Antiguan pitches" that exactly the reason why the Viv had to fend the ball near his throat.. good or steepling bounce comes based on the nature of the pitch .I can gaurantee if the pitches are pacier and if the batsmen gets hit on the green or blue helment or white or yellow grill of the helments he will still tremble with fear..bent grill will have the same affect as the cut lip i am pretty sure..So my point is get the pitches right but keep the helment because we want batsmen to be fearful not die..ask langer..

  • POSTED BY badsac on | December 24, 2009, 5:22 GMT

    Recently in a first grade game in the medium sized town I live in the opposition was playing a 14 year old. This young fella had a solid game, driving and working off his pads nicely. After moving into double figures our captain threw the ball to a guy known to be a bit erratic. 2 balls passed uneventfully, then our bowler accidentally put one in a bit shorter and sent one past him at chest height. The young fella didn't seem to know what to do with it. The umpire said something to the bowler. Next ball was shorter and passed head height, and the young fella looked perplexed. The umpire responded to this by warning that another short ball would have the bowler taken off. What chance is there for the young fella to develop a full game if even the officials dont allow him to be tested? When I was 14 playing in the same comp helmet free, I got bounced mercilessly. I don't think it was coincidence that I was an excellent hooker, nor did I ever get hit in the head.

    Viv is right.

  • POSTED BY Optimistix on | December 24, 2009, 5:28 GMT

    Yeah, right - if we had listened to Viv, we might well have had a few kids with concussions. Much as I admire him, I think he and (especially) you are being dumb on this issue. Young cricketers are not bulls or matadors, to indulge people's bloodlust.

    "Ensconced behind metal, batsmen prefer to weave and duck and wait for the percentage shot: drives, nudges, dainty little flicks." - ever seen Gavaskar bat? Not hooking is more a question of one's general attitude than anything. Bradman avoided hitting in the air, as you must know. Do you think it had anything to do with a lack of bravery? Obviously not - unless you count the fear of getting out as something which makes one less brave.

    A bowler like Steyn, Lee or Bond is still very, very dangerous, and people can get badly hurt even with protective equipment - maybe you should check out photos of injured cricketers from the 90s, like Mike Gatting with a broken nose, or several players with bruised bodies after facing the Windies.

  • POSTED BY Sorcerer on | December 24, 2009, 5:38 GMT

    Mollycoddling of batsmen and constraining the fast bowlers has been an ongoing phenomenon in Test cricket now for twenty-odd years. Ask anyone who does not belong to WI or India which innings would he prefer to watch - the orginal Master Blaster Viv's ton containing his trademark ferocious assaults on the pace bowlers or a ducking and weaving percentage-shot accumulation show by Tendulkar.

  • POSTED BY CricFan24 on | December 24, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    I think a similar argument can be made for pre and post BOX usage in cricket. Never mind decapitation, the batsmen who played without a BOX risked effective castration as well. So if this thing is all about "bravery" then why on earth did Viv and co. wear a BOX?...surely his and other batsmen techniques were good enough to get that big broad bat amidships the ball and the family jewels?