Protection from big hits: Indian umpire wears helmet during Vijay Hazare Trophy match

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Bengaluru, Dec 11: In the era of Twenty20 cricket, there have been calls for protective gears even for the umpires on the field. And in what can be described as a first in the country, an Indian umpire today officiated a match wearing a helmet.

Umpire dies after on-field injury

On Friday (December 11), at the Alur ground (Golden Oval), umpire Pashchim Pathak was standing in the Kerala-Railways match wearing a helmet.

Indian umpire Paschim Pathak (2nd left) wears a helmet as he officiates in Kerala-Railways match during Vijay Hazare Trophy. Photos by Aprameya .C

This rare sight was witnessed during the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day tournament today.

There is a reason behind Pathak choosing to cover his head. The 39-year-old, last week, was on the field in Dindigul (Tamil Nadu) with Australian John Ward in the Ranji Trophy match between Tamil Nadu and Punjab. And Ward suffered a head injury after a batsman's shot hit him.

Punjab batsman Brainder Sran's straight drive hit Ward on the back of his head and immediately he was rushed to hospital.

Earlier this year, former Australian umpire Simon Taufel had said on-field match officials might use helmets in the future. "I wouldn't' be surprised in the future, if it continues the way it's going, where umpires start looking at that (wearing helmets)," Taufel was quoted as saying in New Zealad media in March this year.

Taufel, who won the ICC umpire of the year award from 2004 to 2008 added, "but that's an individual call they have to make".

He felt 'nets' were the 'most dangerous places' for umpires. "The nets are the most dangerous places for us now ... (Virender) Sehwag, Gayle, Warner - they're probably some of the biggest hitters of the ball and they just go into the nets to actually practise those shots."

Pathak plays it safe wearing a helmet

Former Indian umpire SK Bansal recently told "Deccan Chronicle", "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 the bats have improved with a result we notice so many sixes are being eaaily 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."

Having seen such a scary incident, Pathak has decided to be safe on the field. And it is good. In future, more umpires might follow Pathak's example.

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