Former Australia captain Graham Yallop, the first to wear a helmet in a Test match (vs West Indies at Barbados in 1978) has backed Chris Gayle’s view that umpires should wear helmets too. “Gayle hits the ball as hard as I have seen. I can understand why he has suggested that umpires should be protected,” said Yallop (60) over telephone from Melbourne Sports Stadium where he is Director.
“There should be some protection for the umpires and the fans in the stadium. You don’t want a loose ball hitting you. Thank God no-one got hit today,” said Gayle after winning the Man of the Match award for his 56-ball 87 for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Kings XI Punjab at Mohali on Friday.
Yallop, who used a crash helmet in 1978 before opting for the conventional one later in his career, suggested lighter helmets for umpires. “I would suggest that a modified version of the helmet be worn by umpires particularly in Twenty20 and one-day matches. The head must be protected at all times. Players are hitting the ball much harder generally these days and cricket bats are made bigger and heavier than 10 years ago. If the umpire feels he is in danger of being hit, he should be protected.
“I used helmet to protect my jaw and head from the Windies bowlers,” he said. The West Indies pace attack for that 1978 Bridgetown Test comprised of Andy Roberts, Colin Croft and Joel Garner. In a low-scoring game, Australia were bowled out for 250 out of which Yallop scored 69. After scoring 288 in their first innings, Clive Lloyd’s team bowled out Australia for just 178 and reached their 141-run target with nine wickets to spare on Day Three.
Yallop, who was later named captain of Australia for the 1978-79 Ashes (Australia lost 1-5 to Mike Brearley’s England) toured India in 1979-80. He scored 167 in the fifth Test at Kolkata.