We hear a lot about progress in modern cricket. Players are fitter, their skills are better, the bats are thicker and the hits longer. But what about safety? How much has the humble helmet changed since its tentative introduction back in the Seventies? 

Until recently the only industry standard (a safety test that any helmet should aim to pass before entering the market) was one written in 1998. But after years of research, an updated set of standards were agreed upon last year, by a panel led by Dr Craig Ranson – the ICC medical team’s leading helmet-safety specialist – and including representatives from several major manufacturers, the ECB, a standards testing house (Andrew Diamond of INSPEC), Loughborough University Sports Technology (Dr Andrew Harland), and the Federation of International Cricket Player Associations (represented by Dr Angus Porter, chief executive of England’s Professional Cricketers’ Association, who also happens to have a PhD in Material Sciences).

These standards have been approved and published by the British Standards Institute (most major brands of helmet are based in the UK) and while at the time of writing there is only one company who has one of their models certified to BS7928:2013 (the standard’s catchy name), the major manufacturers have all begun to test newly developed models against the most recent requirements. As a result, as Dr Ranson tells AOC, “We are likely to see a wave of new-standard helmets on shelves and heads this pre-season.”

Riki Wessels Catches Ball with Helmet!

So what are these new standards? The old test measured deceleration when the helmet shell was dropped onto a cricket ball-sized hemispherical anvil, but didn’t include any “projectile testing”, nor any provision for face protection as per the majority of injury cases in recent times. To pass the new test, it must be impossible to set the gap between peak and grille at a width greater than the size of the ball, and a helmet must also be able to withstand a ball fired – at realistic speeds – directly at the gap between peak and grille (something demonstrated by Riki Wessels’ helmet, the first to meet the new standards, during the Big Bash). A special air cannon is placed a metre away from the helmet, which fires the ball at 28 metres-per-second. This roughly equates to 65mph, which is the speed thought to replicate a delivery bowled between 75 and 85mph once it’s hit the pitch. Testing also includes thorough examination of the shell through a succession of high-speed impacts in specific areas.

As reported by All Out Cricket. Read more on this article 'How safe is your helmet!'