Bulletproof fibre, Kevlar, could help make cricket gear safer; will submit findings to BCCI: Dr. Mahendra Kudchadkar
~ Kevlar, graphite, composite plastic can make cricketing gear more protective
~ Most protective gear currently in use is non-scientifically designed
Panaji, November 2023 – Using Kevlar, a tough fibre used in bulletproof vests, graphite and hardened composite plastic material will help make protective cricketing gear like helmets, centre guards, pads and gloves, better at protecting cricketers, according to Goa’s leading orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Mahendra Kudchadkar.
Kudchadkar, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, foot and ankle specialist at Healthway Hospitals, delivered a lecture at the 7th World Congress on Science and Medicine in Cricket held recently in Chandigarh and said that he would be submitting his findings after a peer review, to the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI), the country’s apex cricket governing body.
“Kevlar, graphite and composite plastics are lighter and stronger, so they have improved impact attenuation (force reduction) capacity and are lighter to wear,” Kudchadkar said at the Chandigarh event, which brought together a diverse group of participants, including scientists, physical trainers, physiotherapists, researchers, doctors and team physicians from cricket-playing nations who discussed various aspects of cricket, focusing on enhancing performance, nutrition, injury prevention and equipment development.
Kudchadker’s presentation offered compelling data on cricket safety gear advancements, emphasising on materials and design elements to be robust, lighter and resistant to weather conditions.
At the Chandigarh Congress, he also focused on the necessity of the usage of safety gear being made mandatory, along with providing stringent guidelines for manufacturers and the use of approved safety equipment to reduce head and facial injuries within the realm of cricket.
A former president of the Indian Foot and Ankle Society, Kudchadhar has been a former opening batsman for the state team and has been a passionate cricketer for over four decades.
He said that he had experienced first-hand how “clumsy, uncomfortable and unsafe the cricket equipment is in terms of weight, obstructive to vision, weather-unfriendly and restrictive of free movement”.
“It fails to protect due to old designs with no science behind it. Indigenous and local jugaad (hack) designs have made them unsafe,” Kudchadkar said.
Over the last few decades, former Australian international Phillip Hughes (2014), South African cricketer Darryn Randall (2013) and former Indian test star Raman Lamba (1998) died due to on-field injuries sustained due to impact from fast travelling cricket balls.
A specialist in the science of injuries, Kuchadkar has been mulling about tweaking the gear for protective designs stronger and lighter.
“I am also pursuing my PhD in stem cell research. So that research background, has helped me to research literature and take this issue to the players on ground through one-on-one interactions and discussions with biomaterial and structural engineers,” he said, adding that he plans to collaborate with the Birla Institute of Technology in Goa to create prototypes of improved helmets, centre-guards, batting pads and gloves to start with.
Kudchadkar also said that he would present his findings to the BCCI after they are peer reviewed.
“Once I have published my research findings in scientific journals and shown my results in laboratory trials, only then will I be able to suggest strict guidelines for manufacturing and design for best outcomes to BCCI or any other governing body for policy change,” the leading orthopaedic surgeon said.