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Page last updated at 07:11 GMT, Saturday, 24 May 2008 08:11 UK

Video warns of cricket danger

By Oliver Brett

David Fulton
Fulton pictured during his final season at Kent, in 2006

Former Kent captain David Fulton has released a video to show how he was almost blinded as a warning to batsmen about how dangerous cricket can be.

The video shows Fulton being hit in the eye by a 90mph delivery when facing a bowling machine in the nets in 2003.

He told BBC Sport: "I've never shown it before and never talked about it particularly but somebody was feeding the machine and a mistake was made.

"As sportsmen we can think we're invincible, but we're not."

In the video, Fulton is seen practising playing the hook shot with a member of the Kent staff feeding the bowling machine.

But at one stage the machine is loaded a split-second too early and catches an unsighted Fulton flush in the face between the peak of the helmet and his grille.

Fulton, now 36, was beginning his first season as captain at Kent.

David Fulton
Fulton returning to action two months after his 2003 injury

Recalling the incident publicly for the first time, he said: "I had been hitting balls for 25 minutes when it happened.

"I don't remember seeing the ball, but I remember it hit me flush on the right eyeball, pushed it towards my brain, scarred the retina and I struggled to see anything.

"There were chunks of vision missing in my eye and I was told that that would probably be it. But the body has a remarkable way of recovering."

After major surgery and three visits to specialists he returned to lead Kent after just eight weeks out.

But having been close to international recognition earlier in his career, he struggled to recapture his very best form with the bat.

Most frustratingly, having been one of the best slip catchers in the country, Fulton had become a liability in the field.

"I was dropping dolly catches because my depth of vision was not that good," he said.

"The accident had affected me, and who knows? It may have ended my career early."

We can't wrap ourselves up in a motorcycle helmet... I've got no kinds of issues with helmet manufacturers

David Fulton

He retired after Kent released him at the end of the 2006 season and now combines coaching with part-time work for the Professional Cricketers' Association.

Despite the injury, Fulton defended the design of modern cricket helmets, insisting: "We can't wrap ourselves up in a motorcycle helmet.

"You have to get that balance of vision, a lightweight feel and protection.

"I set my grille on a slightly lower setting because I wanted to have good vision, but I've got no kinds of issues with helmet manufacturers."

Explaining why he waited five years to released the video, he added: "There could have been ramifications for one or two people at Kent or the club itself.

"But enough time has elapsed and hopefully it will persuade a few more players to take out a bit more insurance.

"Safety is paramount."

Currently, the PCA will pay out a fixed sum to a player who suffers permanent disablement.

But that is as little as 25,000 to a player under 21 and just 20,000 for a player aged 34 and over.

Daniel Flynn is attended to at Old Trafford on Friday
New Zealand's Daniel Flynn is attended to at Old Trafford

Players aged 22 to 28 get a more generous 100,000 and those 29 to 33 get 70,000.

But they can increase the payout they receive by buying a more comprehensive policy.

Fulton said: "There was a very real possibility I might never have played cricket again after the blow in the nets.

"If this had been the case I would have regretted not having taken out extra units through the PCA."

On Friday, New Zealand's Daniel Flynn had a tooth knocked out by a James Anderson bouncer on the first day of the Old Trafford Test.

Television footage showed clearly how the grille of the helmet was unable to absorb the full force of the impact.

But while Flynn was expected to make a recovery in time to bat again later in New Zealand's innings, Fulton's injury nearly ended his career then and there.

see also
Stalwart Fulton hits landmark ton
20 Sep 06 |  Counties
Batsmen play dangerous game
01 May 03 |  Cricket
Fulton undergoes surgery
14 Apr 03 |  Kent

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