Original Article: The Sydney Morning Herald
Cricket Australia's official helmet supplier has called for greater regulation of the neck guard market as it believes players at all levels are at risk of serious injury unless minimum standards are introduced.
Leading helmet manufacturer Masuri is lobbying for the introduction of independent testing for the protective equipment, which has been used by some players since the death of Phillip Hughes in 2014.
Masuri is concerned consumers may not be receiving the protection they believe they are getting as there are no independent standards in place.
A cricket working party, which included CA, the England and New Zealand boards, the ICC and leading manufacturers, was set up last December in regards to neck guards but no agreement has been reached on the standards required.
It is understood suppliers have been unable to agree if the aim of the equipment is to deflect or protect. The rarity of the freak injury that caused Hughes' death is also believed to have clouded views on what that standard should be.
An independent review into Hughes' death, conducted by Melbourne barrister David Curtain QC last year, found there was "limited scientific evidence that current neck guards will prevent a similar tragedy and they must be properly evaluated before they are mandated".
CA, which is being represented on the working party by its sports science and sports medicine manager Alex Kountouris, is in favour of a minimum standard being set.
Masuri, which is also on the party, had believed minimum requirements would be set by April and is now calling for urgent action.
"How we've got to November and not had any form of compromise, I struggle to understand why it's been made so complicated," Masuri's chief executive Sam Miller said.
"What I would like to see is a minimum standard so consumers have protection, the phase two and three is developing that standard and learning more."
Masuri, whose neck guards retail for $90, about twice the cost of its competitors, says there is a risk there are products on the market that "aren't fit for purpose".
"The bigger risk is there are people who go to reputable outlets to buy a product assume independent regulation is happening," Miller said. "If there isn't independent regulation then there is a risk."
Helmet provider Ayrtek, which is on the cricket working party, supported the introduction of minimum safety standards.
"By having an industry standard it means a certain amount of due diligence should be carried out before a product is marketed," Ayrtek's Tom Milsom said.
"Which from my perspective as a sports equipment designer is very important when providing something intended to offer a level of protection to the end user."
Gunn & Moore said they supported minimum standards but it would take time.
"There are, however, means for manufacturers to test their neck guards, which GM has done," Gunn & Moore managing director Peter Wright said. "There is no doubt some neck guards are not fit for purpose as they are unlikely to do what they are supposed to do."
Comment was sought from other companies involved in the working party.