World Cup 2019: Umpire Bruce Oxenford and his shield

Bruce Oxenford's left forearm is usually clad in what looks like a cut down riot shield much like the one on display during the World Cup 2019 match between India and Pakistan on Sunday in Manchester.

Umpire Bruce Oxenford holds a protective shield during the 2nd ODI match between England and Sri Lanka at Edgbaston on Friday.   -  Getty Images

In the T20 era where batsmen often muscle the ball with brute power, safety is a concern for all parties involved on the cricket pitch, including the umpires.

Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford has become a pioneer in coming up with a protective shield on his left arm during international and T20 leagues around the world over the last three years.

The 59-year-old Australian's left forearm is usually clad in what looks like a cut down riot shield much like the one on display during the World Cup 2019 match between India and Pakistan on Sunday in Manchester.

Oxenford had previously worn the guard during an Indian Premier League match between Gujarat Lions and Royal Challengers Bangalore in April and before that in a World Twenty20 warm-up match involving Australia and the West Indies.

But the first time the unusual piece of equipment was used was in a international was during an ODI between England and Sri Lanka at Edgbaston in 2016.

Traditionally, umpire protection has amounted to no more than a hat or a cap.

But there have long been concerns regarding the safety of officials, particularly in the case of an umpire standing at the bowler's end, with more and more batsmen in the modern era capable of ferocious hitting.

Those concerns intensified when an Israeli umpire was killed in a club match in 2015 after the ball ricocheted off the stumps and hit him in the head.

In 2016, Australia's John Ward became the first umpire to wear a helmet in an international match during the fourth ODI between Australia and India in Canberra.

An ECB spokesman told AFP that if the ball deflected off the shield and was then caught by a fielder, the batsman would be given out.

By contrast, the Laws of Cricket make it clear that if a ball hits the helmet of a fielder before being held, the batsman is not out and dead ball is called.

Officials in ice hockey have long worn helmets to protect themselves from a fast-travelling puck, while baseball umpires standing behind home plate wear face masks similar to those employed by catchers.