Former Australian pacer and now an umpire, Paul Reiffel, has said that wouldn’t be wearing a helmet while standing in cricket matches in spite of taking a blow on the head during the opening day of the fourth Test between India and England at Mumbai. Reiffel was standing a square leg, but wasn’t watching the ball, went into the deep. The fielder, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, sent in the return, but he missed his aim, and the hit Reiffel flush on the head. The umpire went down immediately, and did not take any further part in the match.
The incident once again re-ignited the debate of whether umpires should also wear helmets to protect themselves from injury. But, despite suffering from concussion following the hit, Reiffel, who has returned to Australia, has maintained that wearing a helmet would make things tougher for an umpire when it comes to doing his job. He explained to Fairfax Media, "It would be too heavy and too hot, five days with a helmet on, it just would be impossible. It's hard to hear when one is wearing a helmet. I've put one on and thought 'could I umpire in this?', and I thought I'd really struggle."
Recalling the incident in Mumbai, when the throw from Kumar hit him as he stood as square leg, Reiffel told Fairfax Media that he was in the firing line because he took his eyes off the ball. “Always keep your eye on the ball. I just didn't do it. I feel a bit silly not doing that. It's like playing; if you watch the ball you should come out all right. It was just an accident. I'd back myself to get out of the way if I see it coming," he said.
Reiffel added that he felt the ball was dead as nothing much was happening. "The batsmen had stopped running, the fieldsmen were taking their time. I must have relaxed and expected him to throw it to the keeper over my head and he decided to throw it halfway to the fieldsman. He got it wrong and hit me on the back of my head. It got me behind the ear and hit me flush, that's what's done the damage," the Aussie, who was part of the 1999 World Cup winning squad explained.
Reiffel also admitted that he doesn’t remember much of what happened after the incident, and also added that the ICC took the right decision of asking him step down from the Mumbai Test. "Apart from that, I don't really remember a lot about it. I suppose it did hurt. I've watched the replay and I went down pretty quick. I was rolling around a bit. It certainly shook me up. The next day you feel as though you should be out there. The England cricket team doctor put me through a few tests and I didn't pass them that well, so they decided it was best not to do the Test and have a bit of a rest and come back later. The ICC decided it was for the best I had the rest. I'm glad about that because I needed it. I was pretty sick for a few days there,"
Reiffel played 35 Tests and 92 ODIs, claiming over 100 wickets in each format.
--By A Cricket Correspondent