In the history of cricket, there have been way too many occasions when umpires have had a narrow escape from getting hit by cricket balls whizzing past them. At the Irani Cup final between Vidarbha and Rest of India, Umpire Nandan’s worst nightmares came true as he survived a nasty blow on the head on Day 4 of the match.
Nandan was moving away from his position when the batsman played a shot towards long on. Before getting hit, the umpire was casually walking when the fielder throwing the ball towards the bowling end made a mistake.
Unfortunately, the throw was off-target and the ball ended up hitting Nandan on the back of his head. The ball bounced off his head, but in the next few minutes, everyone on and off the field froze as he fell to the ground. Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal and players rushed towards him.
Fortunately, Nandan got up and assured everyone, including the match officials that he is fit to carry on with the proceedings. However, it could have gone dangerously wrong had the impact been in a more sensitive area of his head.
— Dhoni Fan (@WastingBalls) February 15, 2019
Being in the middle of the action is always a tough spot, especially when you are trying to observe every minute detail of the game while trying to avoid being hurt. The two on-field umpires often find themselves in vulnerable situations. At times their reflexes help them dodge the ball, but on a bad day, the blow could lead to a fatal injury. Episodes like these bring to attention the need for helmets and other protective gear for umpires.
Few umpires wear helmets for their safety. However, others feel that they may have a problem hearing edges because of the helmet. That’s why Bruce Oxenford introduced ‘Ox-block’, a protective gear (more shield-like) he wore on his left hand which would save him from the speeding cricket balls.
But, the umpire will not be able to shield himself if he is not aware that the ball is coming his way. Chances of something like this happening are less but one mistake can lead to dangerous situations.