Top 5 changes in cricket gear since the 80s

Helmets: A lifeline for cricketers

Cricket is a dynamic sport and changes are a must for the game in order to survive. Test cricket was succeeded by ODI cricket and T20 cricket is currently the talk of the town. With the flow of time, several revamps were attributed due to the concerns rising up in the game.

Technology has advanced and its association with cricket is of prime importance. Both are inextricable from each other. With the advancement of technology, cricket has become easier for the players. There is also the requirement for increased safety and a whole host of changes have been brought into the game.

We look back at some of the major changes made in the sport when compared to the 80s.

1) Helmets

It has happened innumerable times that a batsman got struck on the head and collapsed on the ground, wincing in pain. The helmet is therefore considered an extremely important part of the cricketing gear. The likes of Nari Contractor, Raman Lamba and Phillip Hughes could have prolonged their career had their headgears had a bit more of technical brilliance.

Since the 1980s, helmets have seen several alterations in terms of design and protection. Ventilation problems, vision issues and reaction times were the major causes that triggered several changes.

Moulded plastics or man-made fibers, set in resins are now the major ingredients for manufacturing helmets. The visor is composed of steel, which guards the head till the ears. The strap is strong enough to not let the helmet loosen its grip on the head. Ventilation has more or less been smooth.

Nevertheless, Phillip Hughes’ death prompted further variations as he was hit on the back of the head, which is unprotected by the helmet. The Australian Cricket board made it compulsory for its players to wear helmets while facing pace bowling and also during keeping wickets and fielding close-in.

Masuri, a British helmet manufacturing company, came up with a new version of the helmet. It has a clip-on-guard formed of foam and plastic and it protects the batsman’s back of the neck. The 2015 World Cup witnessed its introduction through the likes of Kumar Sangakkara.

2) Bats

Mongoose bat hayden
The Mongoose bat that was used by Matthew Hayden

The sledgehammer used in demolishing bowlers is one of the most dynamic gears the cricketing world has ever seen. While the length (38 inches) and width (4.25 inches) remains more or less the same, there has been amendments in terms of the shape and design of the willow.

In 1979, Dennis Lillee strode out with an aluminium bat and soon after there were complaints that the bat was damaging the ball. Though it was not proved later, the rules were amended and the usage of wooden bats was made compulsory.

2005 saw Kookaburra launch a type of bat, which sustained the life of bat through a sheet of fiber down the back of the bat. Ricky Ponting used this bat to score tons of runs. Later it was banned by the ICC, as it was deemed to generate tremendous force. The bat was also not accessible to all players.

Newberry launched bats with a carbon fiber composite handle and it went on for three years. The MCC changed the law with the fear that a batsman can easily get away with the game. The Law 6 of cricket was revised and further restrictions were imposed on the materials used for the handles.

The Mongoose bat launched in 2008 also became a huge hit and In 2010 the bat was launched in India with Matthew Hayden being the brand ambassador.

3) Coloured clothing

World Cup 1992: When World Cup Cricket had colour added to it

Since the introduction of the game in 1877, white clothing has been a regular in the battle between the ball and the willow. Cricket was a summer sport and white seemed to be the most appropriate colour to reflect the sun’s radioactive rays. It also added to the comfort of the players.

Till 1978, cricket was played in whites, but Kerry Packer had some other plans in mind. White clothing was ditched and for the first time coloured clothing was used during the World Series Cricket in November 1978 when a WSC West Indies XI locked horns with a WSC Australia XI.

It was an experiment, which went back to white clothing for the next fourteen years. In 1992 things changed for a permanent journey. The year saw the first ever World Cup being played in coloured clothing.

There have been several variations in the ODI jerseys. They are designed with different sponsors and their logos. The manufacturers are also different nowadays. The Indian cricket team’s jersey is manufactured by Nike.

The customisation of the clothing also takes place as per the comforts of the players. They are lightweight, properly ventilated and have collars that ensures sun protection.

4) Pink Ball

The pink ball is set to revolutionise Test cricket

While Test cricket had the red ball as a norm, limited overs cricket is being played with the white ball. Red ball, along with the white clothing and black sight-screen, combined well for Test cricket. ODI’s and T20’s have the white ball and black sight-screen complementing each other to perfection.

As time progressed, T20 cricket stamped its authority on the game and Test cricket entered a phase of much-needed rejuvenation. Day-Night first class cricket had to be introduced to retain the sanity of Test cricket. The pink ball came into existence as a result.

The pink ball was first used in a first class game in the West Indies in January 2009 when Guyana played against Trinidad and Tobago in a regional four-day competition in Antigua.

The manufacturing of the Pink ball differs a tad from the traditional red ball. The method is more or less the same, but an extra coating of pink is added to the ball’s surface. According to the players, the pink ball uses a green stitching like that of the white ball.

International cricket saw its coronation when Australia and New Zealand faced off in the first-ever Day-Night test played at Adelaide in November 2015. The brightness of the Pink ball complimented well with the lights and it fared pretty well.

5) Batting Pads

Aero Pads: A future prospect

Though not a lot, but even pads have seen some sort of an evolution after the 80’s. While the major changes in pads design have been the Velcro straps from the buckle straps, the style of pads has more or less been consistent.

The Aero pad has been an attempted change. The modification has not been vociferous but the features of the pads are striking enough to work in the field of cricket.

Chris Martin has used the pads in Test cricket. The features are batting friendly too. They are 45% lighter than the normal pads, bacteria and moisture resistant. The pads have also been classified into three categories as per their size and resistance to pace: P1, P2 and P3. Surely more players will be looking to pick these up in place of the bulky regular pads used these days.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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