Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews had his helmet to thank for after being hit by a nasty delivery from Australian pacer Scott Boland. The incident took place in the 5th ball of the 13th over in the 4th ODI between hosts Sri Lanka and visitors Australia in Dambulla.
Mathews was in no position to play the short delivery after Boland had set him up nicely, having surprised him and bowling it short and on the off stump. As Mathews looked to take evasive action, he was rapped on the helmet by the ball, causing the protective back-flaps of the helmet to fly off and hit the ground.
It was a terrifying sight as the nasty delivery looked to have caused some real damage. Mathews, sporting a Masuri helmet, had the protective back-flaps to thank for. Masuri, the flagbearers of innovation in helmet-making, taking every step to ensure batsmen’s safety, had introduced the protective back-flaps after the Phil Hughes’ incident that shocked the game.
While Hughes’ incident was adjudged as a ‘freak incident’, the jury is still out on whether the protective back-flaps that are now in place might have protected the Australian. Kumar Sangakkara was one of the first batsmen to sport the new Masuri helmet, with the added appendage. Now, a number of top cricketers around the world are seen opting for the protection.
The British-based Masuri refer to the back-flaps as the StemGuard. The StemGuard is a device made of foam and a rubber-like compound that clips onto the back of a helmet, and protects the player’s neck. The specific arrangement of the foam and honeycomb is said to provide as much protection to a play as a hard helmet does and even though it moves around when the ball hits it, it absorbs a significant amount of energy.
This was seen in action on the 4th ODI, when the stemguard did come unhinged, but did protect the batsman. Player’s safety is a huge area of concern for the ICC and the board constantly looks at ways of protecting the players.
While speaking about the StemGuard, Masuri Managing Director Sam Miller said: “The primary challenge was to retain freedom of movement for the players whilst increasing protection in the region at the back of the head and top of the neck. Based on our research to date we believe the StemGuard provides players with a full range of movement and as such are confident that we have created a viable product that will provide players at all levels the ability to choose extra protection."
It was a near scare for the mercurial all-rounder, who will live to fight another day. After being knocked by the nasty bouncer, he took his time out in the middle to gather his thoughts, and fought valiantly to score 28 runs, before hobbling off after doing damage to his right calf.
For now, it is a win for cricket to see the helmet protect a batsman. For no-one, would like to have a repeat of what happened with Phil Hughes.