For a batsman, it is indispensable to wear protective gear, as a hard ball of around 160 grams can do serious damage, especially when propelled towards him at more than 140 kmph. Despite the use of following equipment, bruises or bumps are regular for a batsman; however their use increases the safety level to a considerable proportion.
In earlier days, a helmet used to come without a faceguard. However, nowadays, it has become mandatory to use one with a faceguard, with an optimum space between the peak of the helmet and the grill, such that the ball can’t pass through it. Usually, players use helmets only while batting against a pace bowler. However, it’s recommended that it be kept on even while facing slower bowlers as a precaution against a full-toss, or a top-edged sweep or pull shot.
What’s the most common injury that a batsman can face? It has to be broken fingers, considering that the hands are the closest part to the ball at the time of the impact with the bat, and just a little misjudgment on the batsman’s part, or an unexpected bounce, could cause the injury. Modern gloves are designed in such a way that they provide the most protection, in the form of padded areas on each finger, while being lightweight to not cause any discomfort in holding the bat. A pair of gloves also has unique thumb padding on the bottom hand piece, which is the right hand for a right-handed batter and left hand for a left-hander, as it is usually the bottom hand that is most susceptible to injury because of awkward bounces off the pitch. Some gloves also have a similar protection, to that of the thumb, on the first two fingers of the bottom hand piece, for extra protection.
The uneven bounce mentioned above can also cause serious damage to the elbow, which is why elbow guard has been added to the list of modern equipments. It is worn on the bottom hand, because of the same logic mentioned above, and is made of a harder material than the padding for the gloves. Not all batsmen have to wear it; it’s entirely down to personal preference. For some, the elbow guard might cause discomfort in playing a shot.
Similar to the elbow guard in its material, a chest guard is worn on the right side by a right-hander and the left by a left-hander, to keep in with the same logic of which side of a batsman’s body is more exposed towards the incoming ball. It too isn’t used by all batsmen, because of the discomfort that the padding around the waist might cause. Still, just like the elbow guard, its use has become almost mandatory on bouncy tracks.
If fingers are the most susceptible part of the body to injury while batting, what we’ll refer to as the “privates” are the most painful part for a ball to be hit, with impact, particularly for men. Which is why the box is one of the most important piece of equipment that a batsman should use; it is available in various shapes and sizes, and is ergonomically designed. These days it even comes with suitable ventilation!
Thigh guard is a lightweight piece of equipment worn on the outside of the thing on the side exposed to the bowler, for protection against balls keeping low and potentially causing injury or bruises, especially when coming at a quick pace. Two straps, one around the waist, and one around the inner thigh, hold the guard in place. It, too, isn’t used as much by batsmen, because of the prospects of nagging caused by it.
Next to the “privates”, the shins is the most sensitive body part where a ball striking with force can cause unbearable pain, which is why, like gloves, pads are an integral part of a batsman’s gear. Traditionally, pads are known to cause trouble while running between the wickets, especially when not fixed properly, however the modern lightweight pads make sure that it isn’t much of a discomfort running while having them on, without compromising on the safety factor. The pads are made up of similar materials as the gloves, with a horizontal panel just around the knee height for extra protection. Most pads come with three straps, which make it easier to adjust the grip or position.
A batsman can choose their shoes’ type depending on the wicket they’d be playing and running on. It is known that spike shoes are good for playing on soft grounds, while rubber soles for hard surfaces. Batsmen use a combination of both, with spikes at the front, which provides proper gripping while running between the wickets, and rubber heels for the harder surface of the pitch compared to the field.
You wouldn’t be a batsman without the most important equipment of all, with which you’d hit the ball – a bat. Bats come in different sizes and shapes; however it’s not a fixed range that is suitable for a particular type or age of a batsman. Instead, bats should be selected purely on personal preference; it’s necessary that you use a bat which you feel most comfortable with. Usually though, a bat size can be said perfect for you, if its handle reaches the top of your thigh, while standing upright. Bats are also available with variable weights, which too comes down to personal preference for choosing. A bat of a particular weight, with which you can play the shots requiring more top hand effort, without much trouble or pain, should be the best. As per the rules set by MCC, a bat shouldn’t be more than 38 inches or 96.5 cm in length, with the blade not exceeding 4 1/4 in or 10.8 cm at the widest part. The material used for protection of the blade should not exceed 1/16 in or 1.56 mm in thickness, and should not be likely to cause unacceptable damage to the ball.