Events and people that shaped the game

No. 30

The helmet

A piece of cricket equipment that affected batting techniques - and not for the better

Dileep Premachandran

September 19, 2010

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England batsman James Foster loses his helmet as he sways back to avoid a short delivery from New Zealand bowler Andre Adams during his second innings of 23. 3rd Test: New Zealand v England at Eden Park, Auckland, 30 March-3 April 2002 (3 April 2002).
Now an essential part of a batsman's kit Andrew Cornaga / © Photosport
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England's Patsy Hendren famously walked out to bat at Lord's in 1933 wearing a reinforced cap stitched together by his wife - a ridiculous sartorial statement that might have impressed Sherlock Holmes. But since it was the season after Bodyline, he needn't have bothered.

Intimidatory bowling went into a shell until the 1950s, when the South Africans (Neil Adcock and Peter Heine) and West Indians (mainly Charlie Griffith) started to target batsmen. By the mid 1970s, batsmanship had become a risky occupation, with Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and the West Indian quartet all on the prowl. Faced with the prospect of reconstructive surgery, batsmen opted for protection.

Graham Yallop was the pioneer in Tests, walking out to bat in Bridgetown in 1977-78 wearing a big white motorcycling helmet. Around the same time, Dennis Amiss went the same route in World Series Cricket. The game would never be the same again.

Batsmen were protected and felt it less necessary to master the hook as a counter to short bowling. And, in response to the batsman's insulation, bowling became steadily more intimidatory till laws were passed to control it.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo. This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2003

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.

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