Batsmen and wicketkeepers have worn helmets for decades now, and with the evolution of power-hitting, especially in the T20 format, a few umpires and bowlers are also exploring the option of protective headgear to guard against injury. In Hamilton on Saturday, it was the turn of 25-year-old Otago fast bowler Warren Barnes to trial protective headgear while bowling against Northern Districts in a Super Smash T20 match.
The headgear - part helmet and part face-mask - has been designed by Barnes and Otago coach Rob Walter, to protect the bowler from injury due to his unique follow-through. Barnes' head goes down in his follow through, meaning his eyes are off the ball after release, which makes him vulnerable to straight drives hit back by the batsman. The headgear partially covers Barnes' face but protects the crown of his head.
Barnes is looking to avoid the kind of injury that Nottinghamshire bowler Luke Fletcher suffered during a Natwest t20 Blast match earlier this year. Fletcher was struck on the head in his follow-through, by a ferocious straight hit from Birmingham batsman Sam Hain. He was concussed, but did not lose consciousness and was attended to by para-medics in the dressing room before being taken to a Nottinghamshire hospital for further examination. Fletcher was ruled out for the remainder of the season and earlier this month was cleared to resume full training.