With the modern bowler being quicker and not afraid to take your head off with a mean bouncer, head protection is a lot more serious these days. With a bunch of jargon being tossed around for fun, it can confuse you quite a bit when it comes to buying your protection.
Here are our top trade secrets to help you choose the right lid to protect your melon:
When it comes to helmet buying, the motto we live by is – “ONLY BUY FROM SPECIALIST HELMET MAKERS” Which brands you ask? Here’s our list of the best-in-class personal protection-
We prefer brands that specialise in helmets. When you shop brands like Kookaburra, Gray Nicolls and GM, they don’t produce their own helmets, they commission helmet makers to manufacture their helmets on their behalf. They don’t quite come with the finesse, attention to detail and levels of protection when compared with the specialists. We recommend you go for a specialist helmet maker. Wearing a helmet isn’t something that you love wearing. So, go for a specialist helmet maker to make sure that this mild inconvenience is as mild as it can be. Needless to say, they will offer you significantly better protection too.
A good helmet is one that gives you protection not only on the skull, but also your money-maker - the face.
Helmets pre-2013 used to have adjustable grilles. While they offer marginally better vision, they also provide significantly less protection around your face.
Look for helmets with that are clearly labelled “BS7928:2013 compliant”. These helmets that have been tested against and comply with the new specifications. The way a helmet gets the standard approval is based on months of projectile testing at multiple angles and high speeds. Projectile testing makes sure no part of the helmet lets in the following ball sizes:
- a full standard ball size of 5 ½ ounces (156 grams) and
- a junior standard ball/women’s standard size of 4 ¾ ounces (142 grams)
Cricket Australia has mandated the use of British Standards Institution (BSI) approved helmets from 2020/21 season. This means going for a BSI approved helmet is a must if you want to play cricket.
Opting for a BSI compliant helmet offers you the best amounts of protection. The grille is a little further away from your face, adding enough buffer before the ball and has a narrower, fixed position which will not allow a ball to enter from the vision gap. Yes, it does take a little getting used to, but a couple of net sessions in and this new style will be your best friend in the long run.
Talking about shell protection, let’s factor in the technology in use by the 3 specialists out there:
- Masuri, the oldest name in quality helmet making have constantly changed up their shell designs to bring together comfort and protection. The latest renditions come bearing super-light single shells (a nod to their initial way of doing things) and a foam lining for shock absorption
- Shrey’s helmet technology is largely derivative as they were mass producers for Masuri a few years ago, before they decided to do things themselves. Shrey’s new block of innovation comes with the Koroyd range helmets, which is their leg-up on the already popular MasterClass series, boasting an advanced honeycomb style shell, which not only offers quality protection by deflecting the blow at an angle, but also allows a large amount of air to flow through, keeping you cooler. This technology is widely used in other sports helmets too, including motorcycling, snowboarding etc
- Ayrtek’s signature scoop shape, used by the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Michael Carberry, Kevin Pietersen, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root, has the finest amount of shell protection. It deflects the ball at an angle rather than absorbing impact, which has been measured to reduce the impact allowed through by over 80%
The internal padding is an essential part of the helmet that’s often missed during the buying process. Since this area provides make or break levels of comfort, make sure this isn’t something you skip over. Looking at the 3 major helmet makers, here is what each of them offer:
- Masuri helmets come with dense foam padding around the temple of the head. This not only to allow for better fit amongst various head shapes, but also offers a really soft feel. On the T Line and E Line range of helmets, you also receive spare bits of front/rear padding inside the box to get it perfectly fitted out. Their helmets additionally provide padding pretty much throughout the shell which ensures a comfortable batting/keeping experience
- Shrey helmets are lined with a cloth lining inside along with two 5mm foams along the top of the shell for cushioning. They get the job done but might not feel as plush on your head as other helmet makers.
- Ayrtek offers 2 types of liners for its helmets;
- The TEK range comes with standard fitted padding along with a bag full of extra padding to adjust the shell shape to your liking and give you a reasonably comfortable fit
- The AYR line of helmets come with a pump-up system, with an air-based liner inside the shell which can be filled with air using the pump at the rear to get the exact amount of tightness you need. This not only gives you a perfectly snug fit, but also a soft and light feel on the skull.
Grille Type - Steel vs Titanium
One of the most common questions we hear is whether to get a helmet with a steel grille or a titanium grille. A grille is one of the most important parts of your helmet, when it comes to protection, comfort, and vision.
- Titanium grille helmets are pricier compared to steel helmets, but protection is far better with titanium and weighs ~200 grams lighter.
- If you are a grade and/or a rep level cricketer, facing serious pace is a daily ordeal and having a titanium grille helmet is essential because it’s lighter and more comfortable, and is a lot more protective.
- Titanium’s inherent properties offer the best strength-to-weight ratio against all metals, meaning the protection is significantly better too.
The fit of the helmet could make or break your helmet wearing experience and safety. It’s a crucial area which not a lot of retailers or cricketers don’t pay attention to. At WHACK, the most important aspect recommending the right helmet is the correct fit. We want to make sure you leave with a helmet that protects, offers the right vision like a helmet is intended to, and enables you to play freely.
It’s important to find a helmet that is designed to suit your exact head shape and vision. Most concussion cases are due to incorrect fitting wherein the helmet doesn’t sit snug on the head. Hence, you’re better off trying one on yourself or seeking advice from an expert who can guide you to the best helmet wearing experience.
- In the AYRliner of Ayrtek helmets, you get a pump-up system to confirm to your head shape, offering a very true fit which you can customise.
- The Masuri line-up bears an oval-ish shape, which offers a very generous fitting style which accommodates almost every shape and size to offer a snug fit. The C Line (Plus) range bears a rear adjuster to tighten/loosen, while the more premium T Line and E Line helmets come with multiple padding options of varying thickness to do the same
- Shrey helmets provide a great fit for a round shaped head with their rounder shells, but don’t have much in them for an oval head. However, they score a bonus point for making an XL sized helmet to fit bigger heads. If you opt for the higher-end Koroyd helmets, they come with a dial adjuster to tighten from the rear and sides
An overlooked area is how the grille is shaped to suit your stance. Masuri offers the best style of grille which tucks well under your chin to protect you there. Masuri helmets also occupies a lot less real estate around your face so that it does not cause problems when you’re in your stance. Though the massive grille in the Shrey series of helmets can restrict mobility for your stance, they also offer more peace of mind since as they cover a bigger area around your face
The Neck Guard/Neck Protector/Stem Guards have been a significant addition over the last few seasons, since the uneventful incident involving Phil Hughes. While often overlooked, the neck guard can add a significant amount of protection to the most vulnerable areas that the helmet does not cover in totality.
- Masuri neck guards are currently the most popular kind on the market. The production involved rigorous testing by multiple entities and was first worn by Kumar Sangakkara. With a honeycomb TPU shell, the shock gets dissipated and military grade crush foam on the inside absorbs the shock from the impact, taking away the sting considerably. They are currently used by an array of international cricketers, including Steve Smith who dons it on his Shrey helmet. Upon testing, these stem guards have gone on to display tremendous results of offering the exact same protection as a helmet when it comes to letting a large amount of shock through the protector
- Shrey’s innovation in the stem guard realm appears to be slightly behind, compared to its peers on the market who have spent a considerable amount of resources on expanding their line-up. While the newer stem guards by Shrey introduced are an upgrade from the previous stem guard, they still leave a little bit more to be desired since it is much lighter and thinner. That being said, it makes for a great gateway into wearing stem guards as it’s a lot less bulky and very light
To sum things up for these top 3 global cricket helmet makers:
- Masuri easily takes the top spot in terms of popularity, comfort and the best finish
- Coming in at second, is Shrey, who have been building popularity over the last few seasons. They certainly garner attraction with the newer innovations but when it comes to the finish on their products, they’re not quite up to scratch.
- If you want to try out a helmet that goes out of the ordinary and drives on a nostalgic factor while still offering a very heavily engineering driven product, Ayrtek would be the go-to.
With all these pro-tips, you can easily find the right fit and protection to carry your lid into the game. Looking for the widest range of options at the best prices? Click here to find out.