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What is a concussion substitute in cricket and why are people talking about it?

Australia's coach Justin Langer, as per reports, lashed out at Match Referee David Boon for allowing the Concussion Substitute Yuzvendra Chahal in place of injured Ravindra Jadeja in the first T20I that India won against Australia.

December 06, 2020 / 08:45 AM IST
Ravindra Jadeja (Image: Reuters)

Ravindra Jadeja (Image: Reuters)


Virat Kohli-led India, on December 4, registered a spirited win against Australia in the first Twenty20 International match in the three-match series. But it wasn’t just the victory that made news.

The new Concussion Substitute rule, that came in to play in this match, and contributed to Australia’s loss, drew contrasting reactions from cricketers and fans from India and Down Under.

Australia's coach Justin Langer, as per reports, lashed out at Match Referee David Boon for allowing the Concussion Substitute. Moises Henriques, reportedly concurred and meant to say that they were given the raw end of the deal.

So what is a Concussion Substitute?

In the event of an injury to a player of any of the teams playing, the rules - brought in force by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on August 1, 2019 – allow the provision of replacement of that player in the affected team’s playing XI provided it is a ‘like-for-like’ replacement.

The replacement player here is called a 'Concussion Substitute'.

As per Rule 1.2.7.3 of the ICC playing conditions for concussion substitution, “The ICC Match Referee should ordinarily approve a Concussion Replacement Request if the replacement is a like-for-like player whose inclusion will not excessively advantage his team for the remainder of the match.” Rule 1.2.7.7 states: “The decision of the ICC Match Referee in relation to any Concussion Replacement Request shall be final and neither team shall have any right of appeal.”

In this match, Ravindra Jadeja was replaced by Yuzvendra Chahal – the concussion substitute.

What exactly happened in the match?

Chahal, who came in as a Concussion Substitute - for Ravindra Jadeja during Australia’s batting, bamboozled the Australian batsmen with his vicious spin and destabilised their run chase.

Notably, when India was batting Ravindra Jadeja wreaked havoc with a smart 43 off 23 and helped India post 161/7 when it was stuttering at 92 for 5.

So for Australia, it was an insult to injury when Chahal took three crucial scalps of the Aussie captain Aaron Finch, match-winner batsman Steve Smith and their hope in the ending moments of the game, Matthew Wade.

Jadeja, who had pulled his hamstring in the 19th over of the first inning and looked visibly struggling, took another blow on his helmet off Mitchell Starc’s bowling in the last over of the match.

The result is out there but the Aussies aren’t happy. And there are reasons for this.

What ruffled the feathers?

Chahal for Jadeja. Even the Indian cricket team won’t do such a replacement while selecting the team – they’d in fact want both except if one of them is out of form.

Both the players are match-winners and professionals in their craft. Chahal, a right-arm leg spinner who can’t bat much and Jadeja on the other hand can bowl clever left arm spin, bat for the team and field the best when in his element – that is all the time.

Langer and Henriques along with many others have pointed out that it wasn’t a like-for-like replacement.

Additionally, people are pointing out why Jadeja wasn’t tested at the end of the over as the guidelines by ICC say that the test should take place, ‘at the end of the over (in which the player is hit), if the player resumes play after having sustained a blow on the head.’

In this case, the Indian innings ended when the over ended and hence, India asked for a concussion substitute during the innings break after a test in the dressing room.

Moreover, as per doctors, a blow to the head can lead to a delayed concussion as well.

This had happened earlier with Liton Das when he started showing symptoms some overs later in the 'pink ball test' against India in 2019.

What do the captains say?

Kohli in the post-match presentation seemed non-chalant, “There were no plans of having Yuzi in the game. Jaddu got a knock on the side of his head and was a bit dizzy and still is. Concussion replacements are a strange thing, today it worked for us maybe another time he wouldn't have found a like-for-like. Yuzi showed character to squeeze the opponents.”

Finch said, “They were let using know their doctor had ruled Jadeja out with concussion and you aren't challenging a medical expert in that regard.”

Though the controversy, as often as they come in India-Australia games, might die down soon. The like-for-like replacement clause may find less takers in closely-contested games.
Sumit Kumar
first published: Dec 5, 2020 03:15 pm

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