ECB move to prevent serious head injuries November 16, 2015

Helmet use could become compulsory

Moeen Ali ducked into a Wahab Riaz bouncer during the recent Pakistan series © Getty Images

The ECB is considering making helmet use compulsory for batsmen and close fielders in county cricket before the start of next season.

ESPNcricinfo understands that recent discussions are likely to result in a regulation that helmets should be worn at all times - whether in matches or in practice, including throw-downs - if batting against any bowling from medium-pace or quicker, while close fielders and wicketkeepers standing up to the stumps will also be required to wear helmets.

A firm decision will be made in a meeting just before Christmas, with the conclusion likely to be subsequently reflected in all recreational cricket under the auspices of the ECB.

The ECB have insisted that players under 18 wear helmets at all times while batting and keeping up to the stumps since 2000 but, following some high-profile incidents in the professional game - most notably the death of Philip Hughes and the enforced retirement of Mark Boucher - there has been renewed scrutiny on the issue of safety.

New safety standards were introduced midway through 2014 with helmets exposed to far more rigorous testing procedures. The ECB publishes a list of approved helmets on its website.

As well as protecting professional players from the increased risks of the modern game - the advent of T20 cricket has seen the development of some outrageous strokes, with slog-sweeps and scoop strokes off seamers now common - there is a hope that the move will act as a good example to recreational players who still, on occasions, might shun helmets in a misplaced act of machismo or fail to keep up to date with the improvements in helmet design.

Whether there will be attempts to impose compulsory helmets in at least the top echelons of recreational cricket remains a matter for debate.

"We think that professional players have a duty not only to protect themselves," Angus Porter, the CEO of the PCA told ESPNcricinfo, "but also to set an example for the recreational game."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo