Meet The Team - James Jones

Gunn and Moore (GM) has a proud and storied history of innovation and tradition. For over 130 years, GM has been at the forefront of cricket, representing some of the finest players the game has ever seen.

Mike Brearley

These days, the helmet has increasingly become as important to a player as the bat. At all levels of the game, most wouldn’t even contemplate batting without one, and for colts around the country it’s mandatory to wear one.

Over the years, many of GM’s record breaking and trendsetting batters often played without a helmet at all. It is only on the last couple of decades that head protection has become the norm in player’s inventories. Some cricket fans have fond memories of the prototypical helmet used by some batters in World Series Cricket in the 1970s, which was essentially a motor bike helmet with the visor removed. From there, the relmet revolution began and a number of players began implementing the use of one into their game, often designing their own.

A number of high profile incidences in recent years has brought safety in cricket to the forefront of the mind for everyone involved in the game. Players are now more confident than ever in taking on the short ball, which is leading to an alarming amount of players being struck on both the helmet and the grille. The increased emphasis on safety means that brands are investing more than ever to ensuring these products are state-of-the art.

You don’t have to look too far back for infamous instances of players being struck in the grille; Ricky Ponting in the 2005 Ashes, Stuart Broad against India in 2014 and Craig Kieswetter being forced to retire after being struck live long in the memory.

All this brings us back to GM. Earlier this year GM recruited Dr James Jones from Progressive Sports Technologies, a consultancy company specialising in sports product research and development, where he was a Senior Researcher.

But to understand why bringing James in was so important to us, you’ll need to know more about him.

Ricky Ponting

He graduated from Cardiff University in 2009 with a Masters of Engineering (Medical Engineering), before moving to Loughborough University, studying at the University’s Sports Technology Institute where he earned his PhD in Robotic Footstrike Emulation.

After completing his PhD in 2013, he conducted some consultancy work in conjunction with Loughborough University and the International Cricket Council (ICC), to investigate potential new and innovative test methods for the testing of helmets in cricket, particularly concentrating on projectile testing.

Initially, it was an investigation into the helmets available on the market at the time, looking specifically at the gap between the peak and the grille itself; with the aim of assessing how the helmets performed when impacted with a cricket ball. In short, the conclusion was not particularly well.

A main finding of this investigation was that the ball could and would easily penetrate the gap and often the grille would have the potential to collapse onto the face. The aforementioned examples of Ponting and Broad perfectly illustrate that point.

Stuart Broad

As a result of the findings, the ICC backed an investigation in conjunction with all of the major cricket brands, with the hope of further developing and enhancing the internationally recognised British Standard (BS) testing of protective headwear in cricket.

To achieve this, James was able to utilise top of the range test equipment; a compressed air cannon capable of firing a cricket ball at realistic speeds (i.e. up to 90mph/140kmph) which allowed significant developments to be made to the standard. Interestingly, the only measure of testing in the previous version was the ‘drop test’.

In essence, the drop test is when a helmet is dropped onto a metal anvil in the shape of a cricket ball. The helmet is dropped from such a height that creates an impact force comparable to a fast bowler’s delivery – assessing for the impact attenuation results of the helmet shell. However, the problem with doing this test alone is that it only tested shell of the helmet, which is very important, but unfortunately not the only place that cricketers get struck.

The objective was to implement the compressed air cannon into the new form of testing. The Facial Contact Projectile Test, assesses the risk of a cricket ball delivered by a bowler, causing injury by either contacting the face or causing the faceguard to contact the face after impact. This is now part of the standardised testing for all helmets, and all helmet brands have to go through stringent accreditation and BS testing before they are sold. All the major helmets will now pass that test before they are available on the market.

KieswetterJames then took all the cricket consultancy with him when he moved to Progressive Sports Technologies later that year, and over the 4 years he was there, he worked with all of the cricket brands helping to develop and design their cricket helmets in line with the new standard. They were able to utilise the available testing methodologies, to see how the products fared against the BS test. There, they ensured that helmets were up to task before the accreditation process.

Having joined GM in February 2018, James has stated that one of his key missions is to improve the design, comfort and safety of future helmets, which will be coming to a cricket shop near you soon. His plan, he says, is “to make our helmet the best available helmet on the market. I want it pass the British Standard, be the most comfortable, offer the best vision and look the best”.

Over the coming months, we will be teasing out more information about the new helmets, including images and videos of the testing that James created. To stay up to date, make sure you are following us on all social media platforms:

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