Alastair Cook may face official censure if he declines to wear a helmet compliant with new England and Wales Cricket Board safety rules in his next first-class innings.
The England captain stuck with his old helmet when he began the new season with a century and then a second-innings 35 not out in Essex’s Specsavers County Championship Division Two victory over Gloucestershire at Chelmsford.
The 2013 design favoured by the opener does not comply with regulations brought in for this summer, which stipulate mandatory use of a helmet with a fixed grille and a narrower gap through the eyeline up to the peak.
The update has come about following incidents in recent years, including the broken nose suffered by Stuart Broad in a Test match against India at Old Trafford and the eye injury which eventually ended former England wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter’s professional career.
On-field umpires do not have the power to force a batsman to wear a new-style helmet.
They can only ensure a helmet of some type is always worn against all styles of bowling. But they do also have the option, if a professional player faces up with a non-compliant helmet, to refer the case to the cricket discipline commission.
Cook’s Essex and England team-mate Ravi Bopara sympathises with anyone having to readjust to the new helmet style, but believes too that safety has to be paramount.
“I admit it myself, it is tough to start using those helmets - you do lose the ball for that less than a split-second, and that makes a whole load of difference to a lot of players,” said Bopara. “It makes them feel uncomfortable.
“So I understand where Cookie’s coming from. But when it’s about guidelines and safety, we all have to be aware of that.”