London: With an aim to protect wicketkeepers from freak injuries, the Marylebone Cricket Club has ratified the use of tethers to limit the distance that that bails can travel when the wicket is broken. Mark Boucher had suffered such a freak injury when he was struck by the bails in the left eye during the opening match of South Africa’s 2012 tour of England. He had undergone a long surgery but eventually had to retire. Former India wicketkeeper Saba Karim’s career also ended after he had a similar injury during an Asia Cup encounter against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2000. It was a ball from Anil Kumble that struck the batsman on the boot and rose to hit Karim on the right eye. MCC: Players can be sent off for breach in conduct
Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also was hit by the bail on his right eye while trying to go for a big shot in the final T20I against Zimbabwe last year. Responding to these incidents, MCC has decided to alterate Law 8.3, following an approach from two companies – one from South Africa and the other from the UK – who have submitted designs for mechanisms that tether the bails to the stumps, without limiting their ability to be dislodged. “If it prevents someone losing their eyesight, it’s got to be worth considering,” Fraser Stewart, MCC’s Laws Manager told ESPNcricinfo.
“The companies involved are still working on their patents, so this is very much a work in progress, but what MCC have done is make such devices permissible in the Laws. After that, it is up to the governing bodies to allow for their use.”
Law 8.3.4 now reads: “Devices aimed at protecting player safety by limiting the distance that a bail can travel off the stumps will be allowed, subject to the approval of the Governing Body for the match and the ground authority.”
The UK version, designed by Gus Kennedy, a former Oxford and Cambridge MCCU wicketkeeper, comprises of two holes, drilled down into the off and leg stumps, and a tiny, lightweight ball, attached to a piece of cotton.
The ensemble rests on a platform, so that there is no weight pulling on the bail, which is then able to travel no further than three inches when the stumps are put down.