Sydney umpire wants ICC to allow helmets for safety

Sydney, Nov 10 (IANS) Sydney-based umpire Karl Wentzel has said the pink ball and super bats designed to hit the ball hard should force the International Cricket Council (ICC) to address the need for umpires to wear protective gear in order to prevent a fatality.

Wentzel is known as the “umpire who wears helmet” in Australia’s domestic circuit. He lost five teeth in 2001 when a ball hit him in the mouth. He was knocked cold and required a series of operations that cost $44,000.

Last year Hillel Oscar, an Israeli umpire, died when a ball ricocheted off the stumps and struck him on the head, reports Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday.

“It was a freak accident. I moved to the left but the bowler put his hand out and the ball deflected, hitting my mouth at full speed, knocking five teeth out,” Wentzel said while he recalled his incident.

“The bats are so much stronger today, they’re much heavier, and batsmen are hitting the ball heavier. You have less time to make a decision as to which way to move. You operate on instinct but you certainly feel so much more confident wearing a helmet,” he said.

Wentzel said hard-hitting West Indian batsman Chris Gayle told him how he looked forward to the day when all umpires followed his lead because the West Indian cricketer was terrified by the damage a ball he nailed could do to an umpire.

“I umpired a charity match for Chris Gayle said he was pleased to see me wearing it because he dreads the day when an umpire is hit straight on the head by a ball because it will kill him,” Wentzel was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday, who wore a helmet when he umpired a match at Lord’s cricket ground in June.

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