John Ward has set a new landmark for Cricket Umpires: It was BCCI domestic season in December 2015 when Australian Umpire John Ward received a massive blow on his head while officiating a game between Tamil Nadu and Punjab in Dindigul. Ward had suffered an injury to the back of his head from Barinder Sran”s straight drive during a Ranji Trophy game.
The local association and his colleagues immediately took him to hospital and he went to Australia after that. Ward is again in action today while officiating fourth ODI between Australia and India but this time he is using helmet to protect himself from any such unfortunate hit.
BCCI umpire and John Ward colleague in that match Paschim Pathak immediately learnt a lesson from this incident and he set a new tradition by opting to wear helmet in his next match. Paschim is now following this practice regularly and has found no difficulties in officiating the game. Umpire has to stand for long six hours on the field and thus it is not an easy job to wear helmet. Paschim did his research while choosing the best helmet for him and currently using Adidas helmet which is of 550 grams. This is a lighter version of other traditional helmets in cricket which allows more comfort to the umpires.
Last year, an umpire from Mumbai Cricket Association received a major blow on his face which kept him out from the game for almost a complete season. Another incident which occurred just after Philip Hughes death in Isarel where former national team Captain Hillel Awasker lost his life as he got hit by the ball while officiating a game, proves that now time has come for match officials to seriously think about using protective gears for their safety and thus it is a welcome step by umpires like John Ward and Paschim Pathak.
Incidentally John Ward and Barinder Sran would have faced each other again during 4th ODI between India and Australia but this time Barinder was not playing in final XI.
Umpiring is a full time profession now and individuals are working very hard to be successful in this field and for many Umpires it’s a career now. Thus, it is necessary that all safety measures should be taken to avoid any unfortunate incident.
Former International umpire and an Umpire’s Educator SK Bansal recently said “The game of cricket has become very dangerous. 30-40 years ago, we didn”t find so many sixes being hit by the batsmen. Now bats have improved with a result we notice so many sixes are being easily hit. The power of the bat is so enormous and it has become very difficult for close-in fielders and umpires to officiate without helmets.”
Few umpires may feel uncomfortable using this helmet and standing for six hours in the heat but days are not too far when helmet manufacturing companies will soon come with specially designed helmets for officials which will provide more comfort.