May 12, 2009 / 1:59 PM / in 10 years

Harper has Twenty20 vision to protect umpires

A ground man (C) levels the pitch as umpire Daryl Harper (L) and India's Virender Sehwag (R) watch during the fourth one-day international cricket match against England in Bangalore November 23, 2008. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe

CHENNAI, India (Reuters) - Increasingly ferocious hits in the fast-paced Twenty20 game is forcing umpires to consider using baseball helmets for protection.

“I guess it’s only a matter of time before you see us using those,” Australian umpire Daryl Harper told the Times of India newspaper Tuesday.

“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’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.

“I was talking about this to some of the other umpires and they were also of the same opinion,” said Harper, currently officiating in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition in South Africa.

“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.”

Reporting by Sanjay Rajan; Editing by John O'Brien

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