The Lord’s Ashes Test witnessed drama on day four when Steve Smith was hit on the side of the neck by a 92 mph bouncer from Jofra Archer. Smith immediately fell down and there was concern but the batsman managed to get up. He retired hurt on 75 but resumed the innings afterwards to make 92. However, Smith suffered concussion symptoms and was withdrawn from the Lord’s Test to be substituted by Marnus Labuschagne. Following the blow, there has been heated discussions about making the neck guard in helmets mandatory. However, former India opening batsman Virender Sehwag has rubbished neck guards in helmets, stating that batsmen needed to rely on their skill.
Speaking at the launch of a new mobile app ‘ The Selector’ in New Delhi, Sehwag said, “Why would you show your neck to the bowler? You have a bat in your hand and you have a helmet over your head. Make sure you don’t get the ball to hit your neck. I never even used a chest guard when I was batting.”
The neck guards in helmets came up following the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes during the Sheffield Shield Game in Sydney on November 2014 when he was hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott to the side of his neck. Ever since that time, the focus has been to improve the safety of the batsmen, with the ICC introducing neck guards but not making it mandatory.
There was also debate on whether the bouncer should be banned following the incident but Sehwag, who brutalised bowlers all over the world and changed the mode of operation in Test match opening, was sympathetic to the bowler. When asked whether there should be a limit to the number of bouncers, Sehwag was curt in replying, “It is not that every ball bowled can be a bouncer. There is an ICC rule on the limit of bouncers that you can bowl. Leave something for the bowlers,” Sehwag said.
‘The Selector’ app gives cricket fans not just the chance to make their own team but they can take decisions for the team as well via the app. Sehwag, on being questioned about the one decision that he would have made to help India avoid the World Cup 2019 semi-final loss to New Zealand, stressed on MS Dhoni’s batting position. Sehwag said that had Dhoni batted higher up the order, the pressure on Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja would have been less.
“The team management should have promoted MS Dhoni up the order. The situation could have been steady. There was Hardik Pandya lower down the order who could have scored at eight or nine runs per over towards. Pushing them up the order would have created pressure on them. Dhoni, who has played over 300 ODIs, could have been ideal for the situation,” Sehwag said.