Concussion Substitutes in Cricket | The Player Safety Rule

Concussion substitute is a term that came into the limelight after Mumbai Indians batter Ishan Kishan was hit on the head while fielding in the big Indian Premier League (IPL) Qualifier 2 against Gujarat Titans. The wicketkeeper-batter was immediately substituted by Vishnu Vinod, who would become the first concussion substitute in the history of the IPL.

In this article, we look at what a concussion substitute is. What does it say specifically about a head injury; moreover, we also take a look at the list of a few concussion subs.

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What is a Concussion Substitute in Cricket?

A concussion substitute in cricket is a like-for-like replacement for a player who got hit on his head during the match and can no longer participate. In this scenario, the player can retire, and the team can replace him with a concussion sub.

When did the Concussion Substitute Rule Come into Effect?

The ICC brought the concussion substitute rule in July 2019. It came into effect on August 1 – the opening Test match in the Ashes 2019. It ensures players suffering head injuries are immediately taken off the field and given the necessary treatment. Here are some suspected diagnoses of concussion.

1. The player complains of headache or dizziness.
2. Unable to resume the duties after 3-4 minutes.
3. The player has not returned to their usual self.

We take a look at a few players who deployed as concussion substitutes in cricket:

 Marnus Labuschagne IN, Steve Smith OUT (Lord’s 2019):

Marnus Labuschagne is the first concussion sub in Test cricket after he came in for former Australia skipper Steve Smith in August 2019 during the second Ashes Test match at Lord’s.

In this match, Smith was struck by a ferocious bouncer from Jofra Archer, after which the Aussie batter fell onto the ground. He then stood up and went on to score 92 runs. But as it turned out, Smith had a delayed concussion which meant Labuschagne would replace him during England’s second innings. He went on to score 59 from 100 balls.

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Mehidy Hasan IN, Liton Das OUT & Taijul Islam IN, Nayeem Hasan OUT  (Kolkata 2019):

On one of the rare occasions, a match, which was the first-ever day-night Test match in India, saw not one but two concussions substitutes. Both Liton Das and Nayeem Hasan were struck by bouncers from Mohammed Shami. However, both players couldn’t make much impact. India routed Bangladesh eventually.

Richa Ghosh IN, Taniya Bhatia OUT – (Melbourne 2020):  

This incident is from the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup final between Australia and India. At Melbourne Cricket Ground, Taniya Bhatia, India’s wicketkeeper-batter, got hit on her neck by Aussie speedster Jess Jonassen. Richa Ghosh replaced her, becoming the first concussion sub in a T20 international game. The then 16-year-old made 18 runs while India suffered a crushing defeat.

KL Rahul IN, Rishabh Pant OUT (Bengaluru 2020):

India wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant was hit on the head by a bouncer from Mitchell Starc during an ODI match between India and Australia. After the incident, the 22-year-old didn’t come out to keep wickets which meant Rahul padded up during Australia’s innings. Chasing 256, Australia didn’t lose a wicket and wrapped up the match with 74 balls remaining.

<H3> Yuzvendra Chahal IN, Ravindra Jadea OUT (Canberra 2020):.It was the 3rd T20I match between India and Australia. A Mitchell Starc bouncer hit all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who was visibly shaken and didn’t come out to the field. India sent Yuzvendra Chahal in his place.

This move irked the Aussie dressing room since Chahal was not a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja. India eventually won as Chahal became the Man of the Match with three wickets. He became the first concussion substitute to clinch the Player of the Match award.

With plenty of players, especially batters, in the firing line, it was a step in the right direction by the ICC to have concussion substitutes in cricket

Concluding Thoughts

The concussion substitute rule in cricket was introduced to avoid further injury to players. Sometimes, players receive massive blows and then suffer delayed concussions which can turn fatal, like in the case of Phillip Hughes, who died after being hit by a bouncer on the back of his head.

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