Concussion subs in international cricket a step in the right direction by ICC

The International Cricket Council (ICC), which came in for a lot of flak during the recently concluded World Cup, has made a ruling that has earned the cricket board plenty of plaudits. The apex cricket board declared recently that concussed players during a match will be allowed to be withdrawn from games and replaced by other players.

The ruling comes into effect from the 1st of August, 2019 – the day the much-awaited Ashes series begins between England and Australia.

This is a landmark judgment by the ICC as it will help teams who are faced with the unfortunate situation of a concussed player. Several times in the past a player has been concussed on the field have had to be taken off and the team is left with one player less, costing them a game at times.

Things, however, changed after the unfortunate and shock death of Australian batsman Philip Hughes. Hughes, who was hit on the head by a ball while batting during a domestic game in Australia in 2016, could not survive the blow and passed away soon after. This led to shock-waves around the cricketing word and a slew of changes were demanded.

Cricket Australia, for whom the blow was personal, became the first governing body to introduce concussion subs in their domestic circuit. Over the last few years, they have been relentlessly requesting the ICC to introduce this law in international cricket as well. And they had reasons to do so as incidents of concussion became more regular across the game. In 2018 alone, there were 11 instances of concussion of players in men’s cricket and 7 in the women’s cricket.

Finally, after much deliberation, the apex cricket body has understood the significance of a concussion sub.

Thus, the Ashes 2019 will become the first international cricket series in history to have the concussion substitute rule. The decision whether a player is fit to continue or not would be taken by the team doctor or the physiotherapist. Hopefully, the rule wouldn’t have to be implied.

Australian coach Justin Langer has welcomed the decision by the ICC. Langer was himself the victim of a concussion incident once. In a 2006 Test between South Africa and Australia, Langer had suffered a serious blow to his head by the ball and was disallowed to bat any further in the game during a very tense chase by his then captain Ricky Ponting. Hence, Langer knows the significance of this ruling.

“I’m glad it’s come in,” Langer was quoted as saying to reporters recently.”I’ve been through the full spectrum of emotions of it, having been a person who was concussed or hit a lot through to a coach and seeing how it can affect games of cricket. It’s a good ruling.”

The concussion sub rule would bring in some much-needed relief to captains in international cricket and would also ensure balance of the game. Hopefully, it won’t need to be applied much as that would mean more players getting dangerously hit on the head. Perhaps the time has come for the ICC to look into ways to prevent such injuries from happening. The cricketing world can certainly avoid any more soul-crushing mishaps like the one with Philip Hughes.

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