The International Cricket Council (ICC) will be issuing helmets for all umpires in the upcoming World T20 in India starting from March 8 as part of increasing the safety of officials in the sport.

The initiative comes in the aftermath of two umpires being hospitalised in the past two months for on-field injuries.

In December, Australian John Ward was hospitalised after being hit on the head during a Ranji Trophy match in India, while English umpire Richard Kettleborough received a heavy blow to the shin while officiating in a One-Day International (ODI) between Australia and India in Canberra on January 20.

Australian umpire Gerard Abood decided to wear a helmet as protection in the Big Bash League recently which was keenly watched by his peers. Ward then wore a helmet in an ODI.

“In the last three or four years, the fitness and the strength of the players has increased dramatically, and the bats are so much better than ever before, so the guys are hitting the ball a lot harder,” Kettleborough was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Friday.

“We’ve seen some umpires being hit in recent times and it’s becoming quite dangerous, certainly in T20 and one-day cricket especially.”

Kettleborough adcded, “I know for the T20 World Cup we’re all going to be issued helmets. We’re not obliged to wear them, it’s totally up to us, but it’s certainly something I’ll be taking on board and thinking about.”

Kettleborough believes the bowlers and non-strikers are also in the firing line constantly and it is only a matter of time before someone gets hit badly.

“Our safety, as with the players, is paramount. The non-strikers are in danger too, as is the bowler in his follow-through, there’s no doubt about that. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets hit quite badly,” he said.

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