File photo of Steve Smith and David Warner
Veteran batters Steven Smith and David Warner could be forced to wear neck guards as Cricket Australia has made it mandatory for international and domestic players to do so from October 1. Under the new playing conditions for 2023-24, every Australian player on international and domestic cricket will be required to wear neck protectors fixed or fitted to the rear of helmets when facing fast or medium pace bowling in all CA-sanctioned competitions, according to cricket.com.au.
The regulation update came a week after all-rounder Cameron Green was struck by a Kagiso Rabada bouncer on the neck guard fixed to his helmet and substituted out of the first ODI against South Africa with concussion at Bloemfontein on September 7.
The move will impact several Australian players, including David Warner and Steve Smith, who have resisted using the neck guards since their introduction in 2015. Usman Khawaja also do not currently wear the protectors when batting.
CA will make wearing neck protection at international training and matches mandatory via a change to its clothing and equipment regulations, the report said.
The rule does not apply to facing spinners or for wicketkeepers and close-in fielders.
CA had recommended the use of neck protectors since their introduction in 2015 following the tragic death of Phillip Hughes but several veteran players have been reluctant to take them up.
Smith had earlier said the neck guards made him “feel claustrophobic”. He was not wearing a neck guard when struck by a Jofra Archer dfelivery at Lord’s in the 2019 Ashes.
Warner said in 2016 that he does “not and will not wear” one because it “digs into” his neck and is an “uncomfortable distraction”.
Australia international players will now be required to wear neck guards during both home and away matches.
Although international umpires won’t enforce the regulation like in domestic cricket, players could face sanctions under CA’s code of conduct for a breach of clothing and equipment regulations, the report said.
Among other changes, CA has removed the COVID-19 substitute rule from its playing conditions in line with the ICC doing the same.
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