'Helmets give batsman a false sense of security'
Former cricketer Geoff Boycott says batsman no longer play with a genuine fear factor as used to be the case.
LONDON - Helmets have given a false sense of security to batsmen who no longer have the necessary technique to deal with fast bowling, according to former England opener Geoff Boycott.
The death of Australian Phillip Hughes on Thursday after being struck on the head by a short-pitched delivery has fuelled debate about safety in cricket.
"Most of my career I batted on uncovered pitches without a helmet," Boycott wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
"This taught me how important it was to have a good technique against fast bowling.
"You require judgement of what to leave, when to duck and when to play the ball."
Boycott believes batsmen now feel impregnable at the crease, rather than playing with a genuine fear factor as used to be the case.
"Helmets have unfortunately taken away a lot of that fear and have given every batsmen a false sense of security," he said.
"Even tail-enders come in and bat like millionaires, flailing away and having a go at short balls with poor technique and lack of footwork.
"Helmets have made batsmen feel safe in the belief that they cannot be hurt and made batsmen more carefree and careless."
Boycott believes that injuries are inevitable, whatever improvements are made in the standard of helmets and safety equipment.
"There are no guarantees," he said. "Unless we batsmen wear a suit of armour there are always going to be injuries in cricket."
Former England captain Mike Gatting believes the sport has done everything possible to maintain the highest safety standards.
"We're always very mindful that we have to have equipment at the highest standard and certainly in June this year we had the new standards come in," said Gatting, who is now the England and Wales Cricket Board's Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships.
"So it's very, very interesting that people say well we don't look at it, but we do because, you know, when you get up to the sort of the speeds of 85, 90 miles an hour, a projectile coming at you that quickly, you need the best equipment," the 57-year-old told reporters.
"You need to make sure that it's safe for people to play."
Gatting sustained a broken nose when he was struck in the face by a vicious bouncer from West Indies fast bowler Malcolm Marshall in 1986, but he said there had been few serious injuries in cricket.
"Helmets have been hit many times and bodies been hit many times and so the pads, the gloves, the helmet, they're very, very important," Gatting said.
"It is a sport that recognises it's a hard ball, it comes very quickly and you need the best protection you can."