Monday, June 02, 2008

Watch your noggin'

Getting beat up on the cricket ground seems to have become more fashionable recently. Chanderpaul went down for the count when Lee conked him on his helmet at Kingston and then Flynn, the young Kiwi went down at Trent Bridge, spewing teeth and blood when an attempted hook against Anderson ended with the ball knocking out his teeth. In both cases, the batsmen got things wrong. Chanders turned away from the ball, and got hit on the side of the head. Flynn, quite simply, missed the ball. In Flynn's case, the helmet didn't do him much good as the ball went through the grill. Chander's injury looked worse than it turned out to be; while Flynn's turned out to be worse than it looked (though missing teeth and blood is always a bad sign, the nausea and vomiting he suffered later suggested some neurological damage). I'm not sure if injuries have become more common but batsmen regularly get knocked on the helmet now; the mind boggles to think of the carnage that would have resulted in the non-helmet days had this been the injury rate. Of course, as many have pointed out before me, injuries are quite possibly, more likely now because batsmen (with better protection) have lost some of the fear that would induce better evasive actions against the quicks of old and hence take greater risks and concomitantly have let their defensive techniques suffer. And I'm not the first one to suggest either that plenty of batsmen with 40 plus averages in test cricket today simply would not have survived in the old, non-helmet days. Neither would have some one-day specialists.

The most frightening cricketing injury I've seen (on film that is) is Jackie Hendricks getting knocked on the head by Garth McKenzie at Bridgetown during the 1965 series. Hendricks went down in a heap, and lay there for a while with his entire body twitching uncontrollably; poor McKenzie looked distraught. I shudder to think of how hard he had been hit and what the possible side-effects of that blow were. More than anything else, that incident convinces me that helmets are necessary much as I bemoan their sheer ugliness and the damage they have done to cricket photographs. The last cricketing great to do without a helmet for his entire career was Viv Richards (Richie Richardson wore one toward the end of his career while Sunny Gavaskar wore a small skull-cap in his last couple of test series). Now, I wonder if anyone would ever play in international cricket without a helmet. I suspect that even if a young lad wanted to, he'd be 'persuaded' by his coaches and team-mates to wear one by the time he was a regular at state-level.


Blogger straight point said...

now that the damage is done (photographs) i don't think there is technique left in most for short pitched stuff...leave alone the guts to do it...

there are so many pretenders hiding inside helmets these days...

2:53 AM  
Blogger Gaurav Sethi said...

Helmet makers gotta go figure - the day's not far when a bye will go knock the hell outta the helmet behind the keeper.

4:42 AM  
Blogger Viswanathan said...

Incidental point. There is too much money involved that no cricketer wishes to lose out 'cause of injury. Thats why you find the likes of Zaheer, Tendulkar, Asif and Smith play.

10:19 PM  

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