Sanjay Manjrekar
Former India batsman; now a cricket commentator and presenter on TV

How the helmet turned cricket on its head

Today's cricketers don't quake in their boots at the sight of a speeding ball aimed at them. And that's a good thing

Sanjay Manjrekar

May 19, 2011

Comments: 102 | Text size: A | A

Umar Akmal kisses his helmet on reaching his half-century, Kenya v Pakistan, World Cup, Group A, Hambantota, February 23, 2011
Young batsmen haven't known life without helmets © AFP

I was having lunch recently at a sports café when my attention was distracted from my family: a 1970s Test in Australia was being aired. If it had been a recent game I would not have been as interested, since you see plenty of those.

A pace-dominated Australian attack was enjoying the upper hand, but what struck me was how the batsmen were responding to these fast bowlers. They were completely intimidated and reacting as if hand grenades were being hurled at them. Every batsman jumped onto the back foot, deep inside the batting crease, to put more distance between himself and the bowler and thereby give himself more time to face the delivery. Clearly the bowler was the bully here.

This made for a striking change from what we generally see today, where modern batsmen advance towards a fast bowler, happy to shorten the distance between themselves and the speeding ball.

The batsman is the bully today. An obvious reason for this reversal is the nature of pitches. Granted, that match from the 70s was played on a track offering some pace and bounce, but it's not like you won't ever see such a pitch today. And not all the fast bowlers in that game were bowling at 90 mph; there were 80-mph swing bowlers too. But the batsmen looked timid in comparison to those who play today.

That match, to me, reiterated, what we cricketers have acknowledged but perhaps not accurately estimated: the impact one piece of equipment, the batting helmet, has had on the game, turning the bullies into the bullied. The batsmen in that 70s game on TV were wearing traditional woollen caps used in the pre-helmet era.

We cannot under-estimate the massive effect the helmet has had on the game. It has changed the equation between bat and ball more than pitches have done, for it took away from the fast bowler his greatest weapon - the ability to induce fear. With all the vulnerable areas of the body now well protected, the fast bowler cannot intimidate a batsman anymore. The sight of a tailender ending up near the square-leg umpire as a fast bowler ran in menacingly is now a relic of the past

Ian Chappell related to me how he and Ian Healy once sat down to debate which was the better Australian side - Chappell's or Waugh's - by discussing a hypothetical match between the two. "Is this match going to be played with helmets or without helmets?" was the first question Healy raised, because he felt it would have a great bearing on the contest.

Like me, Healy played in the helmet era, but both of us only wore the equipment in senior cricket. We played our junior cricket without helmets, so we had a healthy respect for the cricket ball and the pain it could cause.

The junior-level pitches in Mumbai were mostly substandard, and it was common for an innocent-looking delivery to suddenly rise from a good length and hit the batsman in the face or head. Every young batsman of that time had stories to tell about visits to the hospital to get stitches for a bleeding cheek or a split eyebrow. A very close friend of mine, who played junior cricket with me, wears an artificial set of front teeth after he lost his originals at the age of 16 in our college nets. So while we were immensely grateful to have helmets with front grilles at the international level to protect us from the big West Indian fast bowlers, we understood the damage a cricket ball could inflict.

Batsmen today have no experience of playing cricket without helmets. These days kids are not allowed to bat in the nets without helmets. When an eight-year-old aspiring cricketer buys his first complete set of cricket gear, the helmet is always on the list. This generation of batsmen has no horrid injury tales - their own or those of their friends - to tell, and have, thankfully, grown up without any psychological scars. And because of it they are not instinctively fearful of the cricket ball, like we were. For them the ball hurtling in at 80 mph is to be smashed into the second tier of the stands.

To me the helmet is a positive addition to cricket. It's terrible to see a teenager lose his front teeth forever. Also, there may have been several exceptionally gifted young batsmen who gave up the game after serious injuries or who were not the same after receiving bloody noses. Instead, what we have today is a No. 10 batsman going down on one knee right in the face of an 80-mph delivery and turn the bat upwards to send one sailing over the keeper's head for four. Fans scream "Dilscoop", and I think, "Thank god for the helmet".

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. His Twitter feed is here

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Posted by   on (May 21, 2011, 20:06 GMT)

Helmets must stay as they can save a life. But chest pads arm gaurds ad all other upper body armour should go. Seeing batsmen walk out with more armour than a tank to face medium pacers is just sad. Its time that the administrators do something to even the contest between bat and ball. I would like to see if some of these batsmen will trust there skill enough to step foward to a fast bowler if there ribs can get bruised or there arms broken.

The most skilled batsmen of today will always wonder if they have the mental fortitude to face down a Holding, Lillee, Thompsan, Imran, Donald or Marshall. With nothing between them and a nasty case of pain being there skill and a piece of wood.

Posted by pradeep_dealwis on (May 21, 2011, 18:13 GMT)

great article, great perspective

Posted by Vkarthik on (May 21, 2011, 14:44 GMT)

Todays cricket is favoring batsman a true statement mostly because of free hits, bouncer rules, wide rules in ODIs, fielding restrictions in ODIs. But definitely not because of they wear helmets and protective equipments. Look at the amount of cricket these guys play. Are you saying they won't have one second of concentration lapse or momentary error in judgement. You guys are saying as if Viv Richards was never hit on the head. He was hit on the head. Rodney hogg hit him on the face. I am pretty sure he got few blows in 70s against Australia. Imagine someone like Akhtar hit him in the face. He would have got multiple stitches. Gavaskar was not going to be hit anyway coz of his height.

Posted by arctictern on (May 21, 2011, 12:15 GMT)

@Tippler, The game has indeed moved on,and one of the reasons for the slow decline of Test cricket is also the skewed balance nowadays in favor of batsmen, which is what the author of the article is alluding to.Compared to yesteryears, the batsmen are padded up head to toe like astronauts and still have rules in their favor.I bleieve that most of these batsmen have not been tested, like those of yesteryears, where batsmanship was not just a test of batting skills but also courage,that had an element of overcoming mortal fear.And that's what makes Bradman peerless: that test by Bodyline;the ultimate champion of the fear factor show in cricket,aside from the unmatched avg. lying in the stratosphere.On the question of helmets i concur that having them is essential,however the game needs a bit more lively pitches,that have gone slow over the years,as that would not only test the best but also produce more fast bowlers;an endangered species, who are dwindling faster than the tiger. Cheers.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (May 21, 2011, 9:12 GMT)

artictern, there are some things that I would like to add after reading your comments. Firstly, I am not an Englishman who were without doubt concious of class. My expression about a 'coal miner' was just off the cuff. The other thing is that Bradman was indeed a great. There can be no two opinions on that. It is just that cricket had not evolved as much in the 20s and 40s when he played as it has today. And so we have to make allowances on both sides of the discussion and come to an objective decision. We are on the subject of helmets and by innuendo,how its use meant a less courageous generation than the one to which the Bradmans and the Hammonds belonged. I only believe that cricket has been gained with the addition of this protective gear.

Posted by bks123 on (May 21, 2011, 4:53 GMT)

turn to some real blogs guys..don't just fight on a topic with your arguments that has no data to support.. read the blog by anatha narayanan in cricinfo...more informative based on real data...who scored mored runs against quality bowling. here is the link..

Posted by Kaze on (May 21, 2011, 1:22 GMT)

Funny how you only hear mention of certain batsmen when you talk about playing without helmets. What happened to Bradman, I remember reading that he used to bat with a steak in his gloves. They didn't even have proper gloves in his era.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2011, 23:44 GMT)

What about the toe crushers? Any 'helmet' needed there?

Posted by kezzajakes on (May 20, 2011, 22:31 GMT)

Bowl a yorker and he will be a walker!

Posted by arctictern on (May 20, 2011, 17:28 GMT)

@Tippler, Indeed there were no speed guns, however read Larwood's details and you'll find what Wisden almanac mentions. he was a tearaway fast bowler and injured many in his career, including the Aus. captain during the bodyline series. Give credit where its due, and acknowledge that Bradman adapted well to such vicious threat in the form of bodyline, and still came out with such avg. And bodyline with bouncers upon bouncers and stacked legside field has not been replicated. Also it was England that was the class conscious society and not the Australians, so your class spin over Larwood's origins is off the mark.

It was Bodyline that brought a 99 avg. player to 56, and it injured quite a few others almost mortally, in the meantime it was on, so that was indeed a vicious chapter in cricket history and downplaying it while defending helmeted cricketers on the other is somewhat less objective. Its not cricket.

Please print atleast, this for the sake of fairmindedness.

Posted by arctictern on (May 20, 2011, 15:39 GMT)

@Tippler, Well speed guns may not have been present, but obviously he must have been a tearaway fast bowler(as described in Wisden) to have injured so many heads and chests repeatedly. Just check the what the Wisden Alamanck 1996 has to say about him. You could find it if you find Larwood on this site.

Bodyline was never replicated. Not the bodyline with endless bouncers, so give the man his due, for adapting and countering a vicious strategy, in almost gladiatorial fashion. And giving it a class spin is just not cricket. Afterall class was more an issue with the English society than their colony that itself was more pleibian stock.

Posted by miketurney on (May 20, 2011, 15:13 GMT)

Why do Indians always hijack every article and turn it into the Tendulkar show? yawn yawn yawn- why not just get your own Tendulkar website and fawn over him on that ?

Posted by Percy_Fender on (May 20, 2011, 13:27 GMT)

With all due respect to "arctictern" when Larwood bowled, there was no speed gun. All we know is that because he bowled from round the wicket with an umbrella leg side field the Australian media cried foul and called the game just not cricket. Relations between Australia and England were so soured that I think it was mentioned in the parliament in England.We see teams resort to this line of attack all too frequently these days even to the nine- ten-jacks of the opposing team. So while Larwood may have been awfully fast, it remains a question as to whether it was the pace of the ball that he bowled or the temerity of a coal miner to challenge Don Bradman that made for shocking news. I find that it is the media's reaction that gives the sensational edge. As the Americans say, "Real time" is quite different.

Posted by Sumeet.Gupta on (May 20, 2011, 13:11 GMT)

To all those who belittle Tendulkar, Ponting, Dravid, etc. just because they wear helmets, i present a quote (don't know the origin) - "A champion in one era would be a champion in another era". If Tendulkar were born in 1943, instead of 1973, would he be lesser champion? No. He would have found a way to adapt and still be the same player that he is. Would Federer be a lesser champion if he played in the era of wooden racquets?No again, because he would have adapted too.

Posted by arctictern on (May 20, 2011, 12:47 GMT)

And Bradman played Larwood at 90+mph, 8 ball overs, with a Bodyline field, on uncovered pitches, with 1930s protective gear, and still could produce an avg. of 56 in that Test series, with a century as well.

How I wish I could see him in action. Just imagine our batsmen facing a similar test.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (May 20, 2011, 12:26 GMT)

The helmet has definitely made batting much safer than what it used to be when Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar were around. I agree that playing without a helmet needed some courage. But to think that doing so was the ultimate in machismo is nothing but silly foolhardiness.I recall Sachin getting hit on the nose by Waqar Younis in I think, his second Test. He got upwith a bloody nose,and hit Younis for three fours in the same over.But that act was not what made Tendulkar what he is today. It is the span of the over two decades having played the greatest fast bowlers that strode the cricketing scene. All that while he played with a helmet. It does not make him any less greater. It just goes to show that he also has a wise head.I remember Madan Lal used to run backwards towards square leg as a fast bowler used to run up to bowl. But in 1978 he wore a helmet and hammered none other than Thomson in a cameo of 42. If a helmet makes it safer for a batsman, why not and why this silly debate.

Posted by Vkarthik on (May 20, 2011, 11:58 GMT)

If a tailender in the 80s had i played hook shot without helmet he is better than Ricky Ponting? What a pathetic grandpa logic. Most of the centuries sunny made against Windies in the 80s came on flat pitches where even Naman Ojha would make a 100. Kotla pitch and chennai pitch were flat as pancakes. Your bouncers would be like half trackers and would just sit up.

Posted by crocker on (May 20, 2011, 7:20 GMT)

Mr Manjrekar is repeating himself through out the article w/o expressing any opinion / suggestion. Did he mean to say that today's batsmen are playing with dutch courage and all rules infavour of them, or rather strongly against bowlers, and are not worth discussing anymore? Be specific man!

Posted by   on (May 20, 2011, 7:13 GMT)

Sachin Tendulkar would be blown his head against Shaoib Akhtar if he had no helmet in dat test match in India...

Posted by Biggus on (May 20, 2011, 6:45 GMT)

I'm so torn about this issue. My head must agree that helmets are a good thing, but somewhere in my heart I just love the days when you could see who was batting and the contest was truly gladiatorial. In the end, the casting vote for me is made by the image of Ewen Chatfield lying apparently dead on the pitch and the bowler, Peter Lever on his haunches crying his eyes out, thinking he'd just killed him. That's just too much for me to stomach.

Posted by   on (May 20, 2011, 2:42 GMT)

Goes to show how good Viv Richards really was, ODI average of 47 with a strike rate of 90 batting against some of the best fast bowlers of all time (Lillee, Thomson, Akram, Khan) without a helmet. He was the best player against short pitch fast bowling full stop.

Posted by OnlyKaps on (May 20, 2011, 0:58 GMT)

And by the way, memories are short but ppl shd recall that SRT made his debut when helmets still didnt have visors and jaw protectors and was hit in the face by Waqar Younis in his debut series but didnt flinch and had the last word in that encounter. If todays batsmen are hit on the helmet it is to be expected as safeguarding the head is not their prime aim.

Also thru his career SRT s faced Ambrose, Bishop, Walsh, Donald, Lee, Tait, Waqar, Akram, Steyn and others.

Posted by nakihunter on (May 19, 2011, 23:42 GMT)

Great article. Sanjay Manjrekar was fine batsman. I still remember the fantastic 100 he scored against SA in the 3rd ODI during SA's first tour to India. Waqar Yunis and the SA bowlers rated him very high. Coming to the point, SMG, Sobers, Richards etc played without helmets and even thigh guards in the case of Sobers. Today Bajji, Umar Gull and other tail enders play hook & pull shots for 6 because of helmets and chest guards.

Posted by Yorker_ToeCrusher on (May 19, 2011, 22:04 GMT)

It should be noted that any cricket discussion on cricinfo about batting start and end with mentioning tendulkar is an indication where he stands in the annals of the game. I dont care about what he would have acheived without helmet.He was destined to greatness anway.

Posted by dalok on (May 19, 2011, 21:58 GMT)

Gavaskar vs WI Pace battery is even more impressive from that point of view.

Posted by smudgeon on (May 19, 2011, 21:38 GMT)

Why must every comments section on this websites have to come back to Tendulkar, regardless of the topic? There's nothing even in this article about him! Here's a tip: if the article doesn't mention him or India, give it a rest.

Posted by Vkarthik on (May 19, 2011, 21:07 GMT)

Those were the days they were scoring at 2.5 runs per over. THere was no necessity to play shots. They would just let the bowler tire and score at their own pace.They would keep on ducking all day. Modern day batsmen have better batting technique. They have more range of shots. Against the likes of Murali, Warne, Mcgrath, Steyn.. almost all 80s team would be bowled out for less than 100 runs repeatedly on a seaming pitch. I know about all the 80s batsmen. They were great "fishers". Why do you think they had 5 or 6 slips every match. None of the batsmen bar few exceptions like Sunny, Boycott knew where the off stump was . They kept edging the ball to slips. Steyn would have made chicken kabob out of those batting line ups. Batsmen score runs freely these days not because of helmets,more because of superior batting ability.

Posted by Rakim on (May 19, 2011, 21:06 GMT)

@nlambda What about Haneef Mohammad, Javed Miandad, Sir Viv Richars (<< Never seen any of them bat tho, but they say Sir Viv never wore even a helmet) or Even VVS, these guys never fear of pace.

I think its about guts rather than helmets.... thats my opinion

Posted by Venkatb on (May 19, 2011, 19:48 GMT)

As expected, my earlier comments about SRT has given fair angst among Indian readers - having seen bowlers from Hall and Griffith to the present bunch and batsmen from Barrington, Kanhai, Sobers and co. again to the present players, I stand by my earlier comments - it is somewhat easier to do an apples to apples comparison - mandate current players to bat without helmets and chest guards, etc., and bring back the old back-foot no-ball rule and unlimited bouncers, and SRT and co. would crumble. Rarely would an Indian team (or any other for that matter) would last more than 2 sessions.

With regard to Alex Farouque's comments about Viv Richards, I have my theory - yes, Viv did bat without helmets but no opposition fast bowler dare bowl a bouncer to him for fear of retaliation via Roberts, Holding, Marshall, et al. Richards enjoyed that luxury that few others did. To some extent, Greg Chappell too enjoyed the same luxury, thanks to Lillee and Thomson.

Posted by Saichandm on (May 19, 2011, 19:46 GMT)

@loveipl... though I don't agree to what venkatb has said... your stat about tendulkar not being hit many times on the helmet is not right.. He, like most batsman in this era, got hit on the helmet many a times... Recent example, he hit a gritty hundred in SA series against the likes of steyn and morkel.. He took body blows couple of times.. and hit on the helmet couple of times as well... @others... I wish it is that simple.. no helmets.. u just start ducking :P My advice, spend some bucks go to the nets try facing some balls from the bowling machine, that is if u care abt what u speak... Remember, it just takes one ball to knock you out...

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 19:34 GMT)

Mr.Manjrekar,first learn to bat and then talk about helmet.

Posted by sunny_us on (May 19, 2011, 19:27 GMT)

Comparisons specially between different era's is equivalent to someone saying..."If my elders would not have died then I would have an army of my own" ... Why to waste time and ink and brain specially when there is great batting to be enjoyed. Enjoy Sachin till he hangs his boot. This time not coming back.

Posted by PakCricketistanLover on (May 19, 2011, 19:08 GMT)

I have heard Coaches tell me, if it doesn't hurt you; you have still no started playing the real cricket. Great Batsman of decades ago are still spoken of for their heroics with the bat, these days its different. To be a good cricketer you need to be courageous. To learn cricket as a batsman, you can never fear the ball. That fear is only relieved once you start playing without additional protective gear. The basic protective gear is necessarily. School cricket, the batsman in that league are generally better than the bowlers, in specific faster bowlers. Since fast bowling is an art which is developed over the years with better muscular built and hard work, a batsman should never fear the ball, and he should know cricket is not anyone piece of cake, if you get hit, you are hurt. And if you cannot reliquish your fear that trust me, great batsman like Brian Lara, Gary Kirtsen, Saurav Ganguly have all been taken off the field after being hit by the bowler while they were wearing head gear

Posted by nlambda on (May 19, 2011, 19:07 GMT)

@Rakim: Ganguly was born in 1973 so it is quite likely he had been hit several times as a teenager, which made him diffident against fast bowling. You can see how easily Raina handled Shoaib in the Asia Cup. Raina is 1986 born and likely always played with a helmet and (I am guessing) was never seriously hurt, so simply does not have the psychological fear of players born some years earlier.

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 18:34 GMT)

There have been more then 50 comments already. I am not gonna go thru all of them. But I'd say SRT or anyone else of the modern era is seriously a baby compared to the greats of the by gone time. The last man who I humbly think was the greatest of all was none other then Vivan Richards. Man never wore helmet. SRT never faced Holding, Croft, Garner or Marshall. Enough said.

Posted by Rakim on (May 19, 2011, 18:30 GMT)

Sanjay you must checkout Ganguly vs Shoaib Akhtar. You'll see he was wearing an armor but was still intimidated :D

Posted by sakiv on (May 19, 2011, 18:19 GMT)

@Venkatb-Are you saying that only SRT wears helmet and other protective gear. All the batsmen in this era have those, but still SRT has outscored and outplayed everybody. That should count for something.

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 18:07 GMT)

Great Article, I certainly agree with it when you called batters as the bully as they're performing under favourable conditions, in contrast to those 70s and 80s when bowlers used to rule Cricketdom...

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 18:03 GMT)

Erm, i dont know about everyone else, but playing junior cricket i had a helmet, gloves, pads. No chest or arm protection, so i certainly was (and still am) afraid of the cricket ball, and have been caused some serious pain by it

Posted by loveipl on (May 19, 2011, 17:13 GMT)

@quazar : You are right about allowing bowlers to bowl bouncers more frequently in an over. Infact I would say allow them to bowl as many bouncer they would like provided those bouncers are in the hitable zone of the batsman. By hitable zone I mean within batsman's reach, not something high above his head so that he may have jump to reach there. Anything above head high can be disallowed but below or equal to that should be allowed without any limit on the count. This will give bowlers more flexibility and will challenge the technically bad batsman who are not capable of playing short deliveries. This will also pose challenge for bowlers to bowl accurate bouncers , which I don't think every damn bowlers can bowl. Hence the bat ball contest will be more even and interesting.

Posted by loveipl on (May 19, 2011, 17:01 GMT)

@venkatb : How many times have you seen bowlers from this generation or may be the glorious past generation say 90's , about whom you are much fancied and might have great feelings in your heart, hit Sachin on his helmet ? May be once or twice in his entire career, even though I don't remember seeing them. The only one time I remember he was hit was by a Waquar bouncer at the very beginning of his career, as a 15 year old kid, which hit his nose and he was just wearing a cap not an helmet at that time. If you have seen that match you will remember how courageously he fought with blood dripping down his nose and he refused to leave the field, even more wear a helmet. Sachin would have been the same batsman with or without helmet because he has got the greatest technique to handle those. Also remember he has faced the most fearful fast bowling unit of his time, the Aussies . I am sure he would have been the same batsman and would have the same bating record had he born and played in 70's

Posted by mogan707 on (May 19, 2011, 16:59 GMT)

Helmets have made cricketers more courageous to play the hard cricket ball.But not the short balls.I consider the pitches played during these days where even a slightest hint of bowler-friendly one would call the heads of those officials.During those days players played whatever pitches they were given and even played on damp pitches.In the present era If batsmen score runs freely,no one would complain;but if you see a vicious turn of an odd ball bowled or ball bouncing like a tennis ball,people start to criticize.If the pitch shows invariable bounce,then the officials scrutinise it and condemn the local authorities or local Board.They had the reverse effect on the bowlers,they are now themselves becoming batsmen and punishing the other bowlers.

Posted by nlambda on (May 19, 2011, 16:40 GMT)

@venkatb: it is totally hypothetical to conjecture what SRT (and Ponting/Kallis etc) would have averaged had they played 50 years ago. Fact is, their technique and approached have been *shaped* by the conditions they have played in. Maybe Ponting would not have made the pull his bread-n-butter shot if he played in 1940. Maybe SRT would have hit fewer sixes (Bradman hit only 6 in his career). But you cannot just reduce their averages by 15. SRT, Ponting, Kallis are all fanstastic players and I am pretty sure even in the 1940s they would have managed to be among the premier batsmen of their time averaging in the 50s, although likely with different playing styles from today.

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 16:35 GMT)

Had Tendulkar, Sehwag, Kallis, Ponting and Dravid been born in the no-Helmet era, they would have still shone and dominated world cricket. It is always interesting to compare, but classy players always have the knack to work around limitations. Agreed, you wouldn't have seen Ponting charging down the track or pulling with disdain as often as he has in his career - but it doesn't mean that Viv Richards would have been any more devastating than he was had he batted twenty years later, with a helmet.

Posted by Quazar on (May 19, 2011, 16:13 GMT)

@Venkatb... teenage Tendulkar didn't excite people (in India, and overseas) because they expected him to have a super-long career. The reason he set pulses racing was that he could punch off the back foot / cut / pull fast bowling with power like no Indian batsman before him, and like very few batsmen even in world cricket at the time. In fact, when he toured England in 1990, only Robin Smith was cutting or pulling balls more ferociously than Tendulkar... even though there was a massive difference in body mass. And he could also play spin a little bit! (as Qadir found out in 1989 when he goaded the youngster to go after him; and found himself getting hit for 4 sixes in an over)

Posted by Quazar on (May 19, 2011, 16:12 GMT)

@Venkatb... teenage Tendulkar didn't excite people (in India, and overseas) because they expected him to have a super-long career. The reason he set pulses racing was that he could punch off the back foot / cut / pull fast bowling with power like no Indian batsman before him, and like very few batsmen even in world cricket at the time. In fact, when he toured England in 1990, only Robin Smith was cutting or pulling balls more ferociously than Tendulkar... even though there was a massive difference in body mass. And he could also play spin a little bit! (as Qadir found out in 1989 when he goaded the youngster to go after him; and found himself getting hit for 4 sixes in an over)

Posted by kgaw on (May 19, 2011, 15:57 GMT)

I was a medium fast bowler (ok, in high school) and still enjoy low scoring games. And I don;t necessarily like batsmen. One of the reasons for the popularity of 20 over cricket is that there is a decision. In Tests tehre would be decisions too, if bowlers were given equal chances. It is why cricketers of the old like Gavaskar and Kapil stand out. Sachin would have stood and delivered -- remember he bled too. Those batsmen stood and delivered. Nowadays, batsmen just deliver. No different from baseball.

Posted by Vkarthik on (May 19, 2011, 15:45 GMT)

Marshall kept on bowling bouncers to Kirmani in 1983 chennai Test. He kept on ducking. It is not as dramatic as some of the posters have made out to be. Bouncers can be played with or without helmet. Lot of tailenders negotiated bouncer adequately. It is simply an exaggerated theory that helmet adds 15 runs on an average. Baseless.

Posted by vaidyar on (May 19, 2011, 15:43 GMT)

Playing the devil's advocate here. How many of those legendary fast bowlers who breathed fire would have managed in the era of the helmets? Wonder if they might have been exposed for their lack of variety when batsmen were not that intimidated.

Posted by Unmesh_cric on (May 19, 2011, 15:42 GMT)

Along with Ian Chappell, Sanjay Manjrekar is one of my favourite commentators and writers. The thing I like about Manjrekar is that he presents his views in a very simple and straight-forward manner. He gives his frank opinions. As a player, I always felt that he underachieved especially in Test cricket. I remember watching him bat in early 90s and he was technically a very good player. But he couldn't transform his game the way likes of Rahul Dravid did to meet the demands of modern game. Looking forward to more articles from Sanjay!

Posted by Vkarthik on (May 19, 2011, 15:40 GMT)

Helmet is not just for bouncer. Accidental beamers can also hurt you. It is not about proving your manhood. If you are really about that play without pads, gloves and abdomen guards. Otherwise they are all same.

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 15:23 GMT)

@VENKATB: I think u got good knowledge of cricket ..but cant agree that no body wud remember tendulkar if he played 50 yrs back..........u forgot tendulkars greatest attribute is adaptability along with longevity n consistency.........with his dedication n passion i feel he wud dominated any just dont presume wat tendulkar wud have done or not done..............u can easily say players of past era had poor batting everages for multiple reasons but u forgot the fielding standards of present day n the number of grounds these modern players need to dont presume wat tendulkar wud have done or not becoz u havent been in tendulkars shoes infact no one in the world will be in tendulkar s shoes ...becoz THIS WORLD WUDNT FIND ANOTHER PLAYER TO PUT SO MUCH PRESSURE ON............

Posted by cricsom5667 on (May 19, 2011, 15:15 GMT)

The suggestion by kim_sanders_world_music is fantastic and would go some distance in redressing the imbalance against the bowler. A very sensible and smart suggestion ! Otherwise with the likes of 20-20, cricket is becoming more like baseball ! (may be that is the ultimate objective of ICC- Malinga already looks half way like a baseball pitcher). ICC are you listening ? Cricinfo should have a mechanism of forwarding well thought out reader's suggestions to ICC - may be some of the elite panellists who write in cricinfo and who are heard in the corridors of ICC would listen.

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 14:59 GMT)

baisoya I think you need a history lesson.Have you ever heard about Malcolm Marshall? Curtly Ambrose, Ian Bishop? helmets have been in for quite a while from the 80's Malcolm Marshall struck Mohinder Armanath while wearing one. Cricket has just turned so much in favor of the batsmen you dont get bouncy wickets anymore. Bowlers cant bowl two bouncers in an over . The only advantage for bowlers is to be a spinner with a doosra and a dodgy elbow

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 14:18 GMT)

Good article by Manjrekar. I know for a fact that it does some psychological damage. I was hit real hard on the chin and lost a tooth when I was 9. I was trying to hook and completely missed. It wasn't until I started playing university cricket that I realized that I had not only completely lost the hook shot but was apprehensive even when I played the pull shot on a rising delivery. It was definitely because of that incident.

Posted by amoghm on (May 19, 2011, 14:04 GMT)

@Baisoya-the-Gujjar...... To say that only fear & intimidation was story behind West Indian bowlers' success would be great injustice to them. In fact the fear factor was in mind of batsmen & West Indians rarely used it unless provoked. If only fear factor was the key then Thomson would have been more successful than Lillee, Patterson would have been more successful than Marshall and so on.....Marshall with his guile & variation, Garner with his accuracy & movements would have run through today's any side. Roberts could bowl bouncers from same length at different speeds, not to mention Holdings in-swingers & cutters & what not..... Remember in famous Oval test 10 of Holdings' 14 victims were bowled or LBWs a test in which no other fast bowler could impress on a dry life-less wicket in the middle of driest British summer, Ambrose & great Walsh were masters of swing, cut....... Its immature to summarily disregard great west indian fast bowlers in this fashion!

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 14:04 GMT)

@Baisoya-the-Gujjar: Ambrose and Walsh continued to take lots of wickets at very low averages well into the era of helmets, so they must have been doing something right.

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 13:29 GMT)

It is indeed sad to see the caliber of fast bowlers like steyn,morkel,roach etc who have been hit over the heads by tail enders like harbhajan,zaheer or even munaf!!!

Al this would not have been possible without the advent of protective gears like the helmet.

It has made cricket a batsman's game with the role of the bowler being reduced to that of a joker in the circus.

Posted by Venkatb on (May 19, 2011, 13:27 GMT)

When comparing current players with the pre-helmet era, helmets and other protective equipment inflate current players' batting averages by between 10-15 runs - I remember Mukul Kesavan's article on this some years ago. This brings us to one key player in today's era - Sachin Tendulkar - is he a better batsman that say a Rohan Kanhai or sanjay's father, Vijay Manjarekar, from 50 years ago or a Sunil Gavaskar? Gary Sobers was in a different orbit altogether, perhaps the greatest player of the past century. Having watched all these players, I would say pure statsitcs do not convey anything when ranking players of different eras. This would raise the ire of many Indian fans but even Tendulkar's longevity and ensuing records and milestones are a result of helmets and other gear, not to mention the recent no-ball rule and an overcrowded calendar. Had Tendulkar played 50 years ago, no one would remember him today!

Posted by kim_sanders_world_music on (May 19, 2011, 13:13 GMT)

Some of the problems afflicting (Test) cricket are fixable: Big bouncy bats (they manage to keep out the equivalents in tennis and golf), short boundaries (move them back to where they were before the game was taken over by the corporate types), bland, homogenous pitches (don't insist all pitches must produce a result on the fifth afternoon). (Will these steps will actually be taken? You'll have to ask the corporate types that question) Helmets are a different matter. No-one wants to see anyone seriously injured, so helmets are, quite rightly, here to stay. But as Sanjay points out, they have had an adverse effect on the balance betwen bat and ball. So how about this as a solution: Let batsmen be out caught off the helmet. This would mean batsmen would be just as keen to keep the head out of the way of the ball as in pre-helmet days, but no-one would be in danger of getting killed. A reasonable balance between bat and ball, I think. Why not?

Posted by Quazar on (May 19, 2011, 13:12 GMT)

Good read. I too am thankful for helmets. But I think it's time we allowed bowlers, especially in Tests, to bowl say 2 or 3 bouncers an over... given the protection available to batters. 1 caveat that could be applied is that the additional bouncers can not be bowled to Nos 9, 10 and 11... so we don't have to worry about intimidatory bowling at the tail (who could end up getting seriously hurt on the head or the hand)

Posted by Venkatb on (May 19, 2011, 13:05 GMT)

If the batsmen of today have superstar stats, helmets and other protective gear are one key reason - the other, not mentioned in your article, is the no-ball rule that has changed - Lillee and Thomson would have their front foot well past the front crease. The new no-ball rule has spawned slingers like Malinga, Tait and several others who do not have the straight arm smooth action of a Marshall or Holding. I vividly remember the 75-76 Aussie-WI series that was one chapter in a sea change in the game of cricket. While Lillee and Thommo were in full aggresion, Holding wa a novice and Roberts more a gentle giant who preferred not to pepper batsmen with bouncers. The next chapter was the Port of Spain Test between WI and India where the latter won on a slow pitch. That Test, and Lance Gibbs' retirement, changed Clive Lloyd's outlook on the composition of his team, and since then it has been pace bowlers galore!

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 13:01 GMT)

Sanjay like Askash Chopra is one of the cricketers who can express their knowledge of the game for readers to enjoy

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 12:59 GMT)

Whilst I certainly concur that helmets give a lot more confidence to players, particularly youngsters, I don't think that the helmet has done much to improve technique. Playing the short ball and bouncer, by the top players at least, seems less good now. If batsmen weren't wearing a helmet they made sure they kept their eye on the ball, whereas now a lot of players seem to duck into the ball, or it hits the back of their head.

Posted by Baisoya-the-Gujjar on (May 19, 2011, 12:51 GMT)

Only because of helmet cricket changed dramatically. I reckon because of only helmet West Indies lost their kingdom in cricket. West Indies fast bowlers didn't have any extraordinary skill which bowlers like Wasim Akram, Glen McGraw, Imran Khan had. It was only fear they used to create in batsman mind. Can anybody tell me that any of West Indies fast bowler had swing or any other skill like Wasim or McGrawth??

Posted by amoghm on (May 19, 2011, 12:22 GMT)

c2ewego.... do u know u r telling this to a guy who has returned to the crease even after getting hit through helmet wire-mesh? telling him how to face fast bowler is a joke!

Gyus, I dont think Sanjay has shown any dis-regard towards today's batsmen but its a fact that many a batsmen who were sheep in non-helmet days would have been lions today and vice-a-versa..... of course the same rule cannot be applied to one and all!

And its not only helmets that added to bowler's woes but things like heavy bats with extra strokes and benign, life-less wickets that have taken forward the movement against bowlers.

Of course that was some cricket, some real battle one got to watch! Of course its just your wicket that is at stake today.... then it was "life at stake"...... You got to see and/or experience it to believe it! It was taste of courage, batting skills were taken for granted then..... for edges & half-edges would not fly over third-man boundary but always landed in slips' hands....

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 12:05 GMT)

There should be major impact as regards scores; right. Matches prior cricket helmet era might be low scoring matches as compared to today's scenario

Posted by cricsom5667 on (May 19, 2011, 12:01 GMT)

Spot On ! Having played cricket myself with and without helemt, I can definitely acknowledge the impact of helmet. And hence I rate Viv Richards, Gavaskar (except towards the later part of his career when he started wearing a skull cap) Roy Fredericks, Kallicharan etc higher than Tendulkar, Sehwag, Lara, Ponting & Kallis. It takes a big heart to face Holding, Garner, Marshall, Lillee, Thomson, Croft & Roberts without a helmet. The modern day batsmen have totally cut out the fear factor and their game totally depends on technique and ability to see and judge the ball early. However, i would also like to add that a helmet sometimes cramps your freedom and an arching vision (hallmark of great batsmen) and one would be better off without a helmet against a military medium pacer and spinners as most batsmen do in Test matches.

Posted by danmcb on (May 19, 2011, 11:53 GMT)

Amen. I never forget being hit square in the middle of the forehead by a beamer, aged 15 or so. An inch down, I'd have had no nose. Even with a helmet, it's scary enough, especially on some of the dodgy tracks you see in club cricket.

Posted by bmani27 on (May 19, 2011, 11:47 GMT)

Another good one Sanjay.....

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 11:39 GMT)

masterpiece...... probably malinga and steyn would have ruled d era if born then..

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 11:29 GMT)


Posted by Wristy_Shuffler on (May 19, 2011, 11:22 GMT)

Good article but it's not all an advantage. Think of the restricted view batsmen have to adapt to when wearing helmets.

Posted by deepak_sholapurkar on (May 19, 2011, 11:18 GMT)


Very good article, Sanjay himself has faced many very quick attcks. I remember in 1987 in his first test get hit by Vinsten Bejamin bouncer and blood everywhere on his pace.


Posted by Vindaliew on (May 19, 2011, 11:14 GMT)

I recall Inzamam ul-Haq once walk out to face Devon Malcolm without a helmet in the early 90s. Gifted as he was, I have no idea what on earth he was thinking, or whether he completely forgot about it, or whether he thought it was spinners bowling and there was a change while he was in the toilet or what... Two balls later he frantically signaled for the dressing room to bring him the helmet, but he was so shaken that he got out before it was delivered. That wasn't courage or skill, just plain suicide.

Posted by keralite on (May 19, 2011, 10:22 GMT)

@Ashay Arekar. yes. manjarekar is the best commentator now. I think he would have made a good indian coach if he were given the opportunity.

Posted by c2ewego on (May 19, 2011, 10:11 GMT)

Manju ur so innocent u don't even remember that getting hit on the head cannot be given out. Also u can always duck or get out of the line. Trust me if styen fires a speedy bouncer at u, u will choose for one of those option with or without helmet.

Posted by malik86 on (May 19, 2011, 10:02 GMT)

The article was gr8..but 1 thing i wil ask sanjay, he gave sachin an edge on his 200 as comparing to that of anwar's , giving reason that sachin was without runner. But i wil ask 2 question to sanjay 1) Was there any batting powerplay then? 2) How much difference in temperature between Feb & may in india?

Posted by Saichandm on (May 19, 2011, 9:07 GMT)

@Vkarthik... I guess you hardly played any leather ball cricket... Yes, batsman will find a way to survive... but their strike rates will drop substantially so will the average of many. This I can vouch because I did try to play without protective gear in the nets and I realized its becomes a totally different ball game... u cannot really concentrate on what you are doing cause the fear of getting hit constantly plays on ur mind.. Also the wickets these days are much more predictable which make things easier... Please read ur stats properly... A Adam Gilchrist, the greatest wicket keeper ever, also has a strike rate of 80+ in tests and also has a average of 47+ Btw... when Sehwag was compared to Viv Richards he humbly refused saying that those playing conditions were far more difficult than the ones we have...

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 9:06 GMT)

Your comment is right there is enough protection for batsman, is necessary and should be the case. Always the one who responds to attack has harder job in every battle....Always the country who first attacks the enemy gets upper hand in war. Responding is hard attacking is very easy. Bowler fires the ball hence he is attacking which is easier job and batsman has to respond which is harder job. Batsman's first slight mistake ends his story whereas bowler is allowed to make a lot of mistakes i.e. bowler can even bowl 1 bad delivery every over. so he gets 10 chances of major blunder compared to batsman's 1 chance. Bcz game is naturally inclined towards bowlers batsman is rightly given protection and other benefit to slightly balance out the advantage. But truely talented bowlers as Waqar Ambrose warne have proved that they can knock over or completely dominate avg batsmen regardless of how many protection batsman has and on deadest pitches (Only a bad workman complains about tools)

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 8:34 GMT)

Wonderful article, which is spot on ! Indeed cricket has become a batsmen's game, no doubt and helemt introduction had a huge part to play in that, however batsmen today are still wary of toe-crushers ala Malinga Slinga.... Neverthless, I feel Sanjay is the best Indian commentator by miles.... technically perfect, language which is simple yet so ornamentally decorated and still every word makes sense... with a powerful diction and voice modulation.... apart from a knack of real 'out of the box thinking' which results in him commenting on issues that an average commentator wouldn't even think of .... Hats off to you !!

Posted by Meety on (May 19, 2011, 8:17 GMT)

@smudgeon - pretty sure the "stupid face" was against NZ. It was a classic. Around that time I also saw Warney bowl a delivery from about 2 metres behind the crease, & another time a kiwi was getting under his skin by walking halfway to square leg after every ball - so Warney used a one-step run up & complained to the umpire that the batter was time wasting. I think he eventually upset the batsmens routine & got him out. I think this was all during the 0-0 test series in Oz v NZ that was rain affected.

Posted by MENDIS_Forever on (May 19, 2011, 8:13 GMT)

Remembering Nariman Contractor;The unfortunate cricketer to quit cricket due to a wes hall bouncer.People thought he would die,thanks god it didn't happen.Modern day youngsters don't have much threats,coz they are wearing helmets.the only thing they have to be aware is to wear a proper pair of shoes.otherwise malinga will crush their toes.

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 7:30 GMT)

To Vineet Sharma - You say Sunny Gavaskar would have been better - I think not, he was a great batter, India would have been a better sid ethough for sure, however you say Sunny didnt wear a helmet, well he did - he had a especially made head guard that fitted under his floppy hat! He was brave...but he wasnt stupid! I am an aussie, I thouraghly enjoyed the contest between he and dennis lillie in the late 70's early 80's....contest finshed even I reckon!!

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (May 19, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

malinga, roach, and steyn are the only fast bowlers today that are feared..... based on patterns, i expect a bowling dominant era coming in another 3-4 years

Posted by bks123 on (May 19, 2011, 7:19 GMT)

ok...let's then look at this from a different angle.. with flat pitches, bowling restrictions in ODIs and restrictions on the number of bouncers, does it mean that shoaib akhtar, brett Lee, Mcgrath, and steyn (with better or equally good SR and ave) are much better bowlers than those from prehelmet era? The quickies of the prehelmet era had every thing in their favor like uncovered pitches, bouncers at will, no helmet, and bowler friendly pitches. But then also their SR and Ave are similar to the quickies of post helmet era like akram, mcgrath, donald, waqar younis, pollock, ambrose, lee, akhtar etc and some of the post helmet era fast men have better SR and ave than most of those first bowlers from prehelmet era, even after warne, murli and kumble had taken more than 2000 wickets. So we must consider the post helmet era quickies as better bowlers. But as it turns out we are obsessed with past. For some both batters and bowlers of ancient times are the only noteworthy..shame..

Posted by Psychopathetikka on (May 19, 2011, 7:14 GMT)

I hope batsmen don't come up with some contraption to protect their toes from "toe-crushing-yorkers" like the ones Malinga sends :) But even if they did they'd be given out "toe-protector-before wicket", right? :)

Posted by Vkarthik on (May 19, 2011, 7:07 GMT)

Dale steyn, Waqar Akhtar , have better strike rate than any of the fast bowlers bowled in that era. Imagine Steyn bowling in the 80s. He would have routed every single batting line up in the 80s. Works both ways. it is foolish to make an assumption someone like Tendulkar or Dravid or Lara would not have adapted themselves. Srikkanth had one of the worst batting technique for an opener. He himself tore West Indies attack apart several times. You really think Virendar Sehwag with much better technique would have struggled. Trust me you cannot imitate what Viru does even in club cricket.It is a gift. In the 100 plus years of history he is the only opener having a strike rate over 80 plus. Don't over simplify without any proof that without helmet so and so would have struggled, with helmet so and so would have played like Bradman. There is no proof.

Posted by suhass92 on (May 19, 2011, 6:54 GMT)

But the drawback of all this is that cricket has become a sport similar to the gladiators where bowlers are thrown in to get hit for the amusement of the crowd. i miss the days of lillee and thomson

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 6:52 GMT)

Gr8 article Sanjay..we always believe cricket is batsmen game but your article just defines how difficult phase batsmen of that era has encountered. Taking a bloody blow to your face,eye,nose can ruin any ones career, it may even hit his confidence. Thanks to manufacturers & administrator for inventing Helmet & other protective gear..As for Bowlers ICC & Local boards should take care to make sporting pitches with help for both Bowlers & Batsman..I like the pitch at darmshala in Himachal where IPL is played..similar pitches should be produced in India

Posted by bala-chala on (May 19, 2011, 6:38 GMT)

Fast bowling is going to see a resurgence and Dale Steyn is its messiah just like the way Warne is to leg spin.

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 6:30 GMT)

this transition and the helmet effect itself explains greatness of sunny Gavaskar.....people now cry over less strike rate and all that 36 runs in one wcd match..........but to me he played his entire cricket in front of fast bowlers of greatest pace bowlers.........without actually facing any credible fast bowlers(even kapil was a medium pacer and no comparison to LIlly-thomo, holding and Imran) fact his inning were far better considering he couldn't practice bowlers in nets.....holding etc. were actually doubling as his net bowlers also.........and this explains his slow strike rate also............hats off to sunny.......if India could have produced even one pacer and opening partner of calibre in his time........his stat would have certainly improved.....he deserved 50 centuries without helmet also

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 6:18 GMT)

Fast bowling is dying quickly, only Dale Steyn the real fast bowler left in cricket world today, Its sad.

Posted by degiant on (May 19, 2011, 5:53 GMT)

The helmet may have been a factor in batters looking better but the main reason the fast bowlers got blunt was the bouncer rule. Even with slow pitches and helmets WI pacers still had batters backing away or running for their lives and then the ICC limited the bouncers which made cricket a batters' sport.

Posted by Cricket_theBestGame on (May 19, 2011, 5:32 GMT)

sanjay, out of all Indian commentators i only like you. you are the most balanced and unbiased Indian commentator out there even if it involved Pakistan ! shastri, gavaskar, bhoglay etc can learn a thing or two from you about commentating on the game !

your point is spot on about helmets. i've seen first hand my fellow batsman get hit on the nose (broken in several places). since then he is not the same batsman.infact he calls himself a tail ender now.

Posted by pandthee on (May 19, 2011, 5:20 GMT)

Daniel Flynn has a "horrid injury tale" after New Zealands last tour to england, hit flush on the grill by James Anderson, the grill went back into his face and he lost a tooth! I also remember Shane Warne having a ball sneak through the gap between the grill and peak of the helmet which resulted in a nasty black eye. Although helmets have helped batsmen a lot, they are a waste of time if you dont wear them correctly! Im sure Chanderpaul will agree with me that if your facing someone like brett lee and get hit on the head damage can still be done. Although not to the same extent, i still believe quality fast bowlers can strike fear into the best of batsmen.

Posted by   on (May 19, 2011, 5:08 GMT)

This was a very nice article by Sanjay.

Funny moment "Is this match going to be played with helmets or without helmets?" What is the contest is to come up with a team which will play with out the helmet?

Posted by adityap on (May 19, 2011, 4:41 GMT)

Thank God for the helmet indeed. Now how about banning all other safety devices except the traditional ones (pads/box)?

The very fact that a no. 10 batsman can "go down on one knee right in the face of an 80-mph delivery and turn the bat upwards to send one sailing over the keeper's head for four" means that something is wrong with the game.

If not that, how about banning the very use of the words 'unsafe pitch'? All this body armour nullifies almost anything the pitch can do doesn't it?

Posted by Longmemory on (May 19, 2011, 4:37 GMT)

I am always surprised this aspect of the game does not get more attention than it does - so thanks very much, Sanjay. The helmet has been a complete game-changer if ever there was one. Many of today's star batsmen would have had short test careers, if at all, in the pre-helmet era. I would straight away put Sehwag and Ganguly at the top of the list. In contrast, many would have had stunning careers if they had been born a decade or two later: guys like Brijesh Patel and Ashok Mankad. Prolific run-getters against everything but top pace, blessed with exquisite timing and solid techinque, they would have dominated had they had the protection of today. I would go so far as to say all post-helmet batters should be marked with an asterisk in the Stats section of Cricinfo!

Posted by smudgeon on (May 19, 2011, 4:33 GMT)

It's certainly been different for bowlers in recent years, that's for sure. And interesting to note that the most successful bowlers on the last 15-20 years (since helmets became so common) have been those who rarely used fear or intimidation. I do recall Warney once pulling a stupid face at the batsman half-way through his delivery stride (it might have been during his "I'm allowed once bouncer an over, too" phase)...perhaps this was meant more to confuse the batsman into giving up his wicket. Good times.

Posted by SPotnis on (May 19, 2011, 4:33 GMT)

That is exactly why Sir Viv Richards, Sunil Manohar Gavaskar were the greatest of all. Sir Viv was blessed with phenomenal eye sight, reflexes and courange to hammer the likes of Lillee, Thompson, Willis, Pascoe. Gavaskar had the impecable technique to withstand Holding, Roberts, Garner, Croft, Marshall, Lillee & Thompson. Today's batsman have very little to fear and I don't mean it in a negative way but the game has changed to make it more comfortable for the batsman

Posted by Vkarthik on (May 19, 2011, 4:10 GMT)

Batsmen would have found a way to survive without helmet. Even now batsmen take their helmet off against spinners. It improves your vision dramatically. Even though helmet protects you from getting hit, it also robs you of improved vision. Also imagine wearing it during peak summer at chepauk. It is no fun. what is next. Players who played in 1870s questioning the skills of players playing with abdomen guard? It is a protective gear. Not going to turn Steve smith into Steve waugh.

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