Warren Barnes caught the eye at Seddon Park today – and not because of his three wickets.
The Otago Volts fast bowler was charging in while wearing protective headgear, specifically designed to protect him in his follow-through.
The contraption is part helmet and part mask, with Barnes' face partially covered, and the crown of his head well protected – an important distinction for the 25-year-old due to his unique follow-through.
Barnes's bowling action sees him follow-through with his head down and eyes off the ball after he has released his delivery, and Otago Volts coach Rob Walter explained that Barnes felt that his action left him vulnerable to a line-drive hitting him on the head.
Walter and Barnes combined to design the headgear, which Barnes had worn once before this afternoon's Twenty20 clash.
Barnes is one of the quickest bowlers on the New Zealand domestic scene, and has proven to be a handy asset in short-form cricket. The former Auckland seamer is a late bloomer who could push for higher honours if he can avoid injuries, which have plagued his career to date.
Thus, the added protection is a sound choice, and the extra safety was a smart decision against the big-hitting Northern side, who splayed 12 sixes in their imposing total of 212-9.
Anton Devcich (42 from 21), Daniel Flynn (47 from 26) and Daryl Mitchell (41 from 24) shone for the hosts, while Brett Hampton hit some of the biggest sixes seen in recent times at Seddon Park on his way to 44 from 20 balls.
Fellow Volts seamer Neil Wagner nearly faced the same danger Barnes was hoping to avoid, with the Black Caps test bowler having a Mitchell shot clatter into his leg.
In Otago's turn at bat, Wagner then accidentally returned the favour, with a straight drive clanging his batting partner Brad Wilson in the thigh.
Fortunately, the only lasting damage was to Wagner's figures, as he went for 1-33 from three overs, while Barnes finished with the repetitively pleasing figures of 3-33 from three.
Otago could only muster half ND's total in response, rolled for 106 to lose by 106 runs.