Ex-Aussie cricket captain calls for ban on helmets
Former Australian cricket captain Kim Hughes has sensationally called for safety helmets to be banned from junior cricket.
The extraordinary statements came during a commentary stint early in his media career resurrection working for Fox Sports, calling the JLT One Day Cup.
In the 20th over of the match between New South Wales and South Australia at the WACA ground in Perth, Hughes, commentating from the Lillee-Marsh stand end of the ground, said: “If I was coaching youngsters today I’d coach them without helmets because it teaches you the correct footwork.
“It gives them a false sense of security, they just lunge forward.
“And I know you can’t but ... they think they’re safe but they’re not.
“There’s more blokes hit now with helmets than there ever used to be.”
Hughes, who donned the Baggy Green for Australia both as player and captain over a 70-test career, may have landed himself in a whirlwind of controversy four years after the tragic death of Phillip Hughes – who was struck in the head and killed by a bouncer from Sean Abbott in a domestic match between NSW and South Australia, the same teams featuring in today’s one-dayer in Perth at which the colourful ex-captain was commentating.
Sean Abbott was waiting to bat in the NSW sheds at the time of the explosive remarks.
Kim Hughes, who shares a surname with the man whose death sparked rapid redesigns of cricket helmets worldwide, believes Australian children should do away with the protective headgear and risk their lives to improve footwork against potentially deadly deliveries.
In 2010, Kim Hughes named West Indian batsman Roy Fredericks being clocked in the head by legendary Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee while not wearing a helmet as one of his top five WACA moments.
“Roy Fredericks, he was amazing, he got hit in the head by Dennis without a helmet and he didn’t flinch,” Hughes told Fairfax Media.
Despite Hughes naming that moment as among his favourites, the animosity between he and Lillee is now part of cricketing folklore.
When Hughes used to take guard in the practice nets, Lillee usually broke from training tradition and marked out a full run up – a ritual which almost invariably culminated in a short ball barrage aimed at his captain’s head.
It is a war of attrition which talented Australian swing bowler Geoff Lawson still recalls.
“(He) just ran in and bowled lightning at him in the nets and Kim had to go for an X-Ray as I recall, got hit in the forearm the day before the Ashes started,” Lawson said.
In a now famous off-field exchange between Hughes and Australia’s most famous fast bowler, Lillee once unleashed a short-ball blitzkrieg on his captain including one that just missed Hughes’s head.
“Sorry,” said Lillee.
“Oh that’s ok,” Hughes replied, to which Lillee retorted:
“Sorry I didn’t f------ hit you.”