Rod Marsh has called for the no-ball rule to be changed in order to prevent possible injury to umpire’s.
Australia’s chairman of selectors thinks reverting to the back-foot law could help prevent an umpire being seriously hurt by a powerful shot.
Marsh says changing the front-foot no-ball law could be one way to avoid tragedy.
The former Australia wicketkeeper has called for the current law to be amended to allow umpires to stand further back at the bowler’s end, giving them more time to react should a ball be hit powerfully towards them.
‘It’s only a matter of time before an umpire in an international or first-class match is seriously hurt, if not killed,’ Marsh said at the annual MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture.
‘This appears most likely to occur in T20 cricket but looking at the World Cup earlier this year, it could happen at any time. If I happened to be umpiring right now I’d be wearing a baseball catchers helmet, a chest pad and shin guards.
‘Maybe we have to make this safety gear for umpires compulsory for all international and first class games.’
With players increasingly hitting the ball harder and further, Marsh said the best option would be to revert to the back-foot law, which was dispensed with in 1962-63.
‘I can’t see why we ever went to the front-foot law and just quietly I can reveal there are a few umpires out there beginning to wish it would revert back to the back-foot law.
‘You put yourself in their position when a batsman with a massive weapon runs at the bowler and smashes a straight drive at about chest height.
‘I for one would want to be standing back as far as possible and by reverting to the back-foot law the umpire has a chance to stand at least two metres further back.’
In November last year, umpire and former captain of Israel’s national cricket team Hillel Awaskar died after being hit by a ball during a match in the southern port city of Ashdod.
Awaskar was struck on the head while standing at the bowler’s end. He was treated at the ground before being rushed to hospital, where he died a short time later.
England’s first-class umpires are set to discuss safety concerns and the possibility of protective head visors at their end-of-season meeting this month.
The protection – for the head, heart and the back of the neck – could be introduced in one-day and championship matches next season. – cricket.com.au