Monday, May 18, 2009

Baseball rears it's ugly head again

Baseball, the bane of all good Englishmen who believe in the sanctity of cricket, has reared it's ugly head again and injected it's self into the hallowed game again. A new form of cricket, Twenty20 is taking over, and becoming very popular in the UK:

Cricket's newest format is gaining popularity because of the frequency of big hits and Harper said this was putting umpires at greater risk due to their proximity to the batsman.
Because of this, some umpires have suggested going to an American-style umpires mask:

"I guess it's only a matter of time before you see us using those," Australian umpire Daryl Harper said.

"The bats are getting heavier, the shots are hit with more ferocity... I can bet umpires have to be very careful," he said, suggesting a baseball helmet with a full face cover would act as a good form of protection.
Cricket umpires are feeling the heat, as well as the ball:

"Given the pace with which some of the players hit those shots, it's becoming really dangerous for us.

"In one of the games, Sanath's (Jayasuriya) shot hit me so hard that I was feeling breathless for a while.

"And (Matthew) Hayden's hits have brushed my ears a few times as well."
Those who know me might think I would take this opportunity to criticize or make fun of cricket, and the umpires decision to go to masks. But I'm not going to. I've umpired for 30 years, and I've lost count of the number of games I've done behind the plate. I've taken more foul balls off of more body parts than I can remember, to include foul balls directly into the mask. I've also been nailed with some line drives out in the field.

I fully understand their concern, and think this is a good idea, if they want to do it. If they think they need to wear masks, then they should. The only problem I see with it is cricket fans not liking it, and making fun of the umpires for wearing them. Which might cause some umpires not to do so. That's not good for the safety of the umpires.

Another problem with this are the complaints of the 'baseballification' of cricket. This will not help any. But it might prevent serious injury. And since the batters and some of the fielders in cricket already wear mandatory facemasks and helmets, why not the umpires?

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