Melbourne: Concerned about the safety of its on-field officials, the ICC will provide specially-designed helmets to umpires in the upcoming World Twenty20 Championship in India to ensure they are protected from wayward hits.
The move comes after two umpires were hospitalised in the last two months after being struck on the field.
In December, Australian John Ward was hospitalised after being hit on the head during a Ranji Trophy match in India, while English umpire Richard Kettleborough was hit during the India-Australia ODI earlier this month.
"In the last three or four years, the fitness and the strength of the players has increased dramatically, and the bats are so much better than ever before, so the guys are hitting the ball a lot harder," Kettleborough told 'cricket.com.au'.
"...it's becoming quite dangerous, certainly in T20 and one-day cricket especially. I know for the T20 World Cup we're all going to be issued helmets. We're not obliged to wear them, it's totally up to us, but it's certainly something I'll be taking on board and thinking about."
Kettleborough said the preventive action is necessary to ensure that nobody gets injured too seriously.
"Our safety, as with the players, is paramount. The non- strikers are in danger too, as is the bowler in his follow- through, there's no doubt about that. It's only a matter of time before someone gets hit quite badly," he said.