Euro 2020 Special

Indian T20 League: All About The New Impact Player Rule

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has proposed a new rule to make the next edition of the Indian T20 League much more exciting with new “Impact Player” rules that will allow teams to use tactical substitutions.

The rules were already tried and tested during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament earlier this year, and based on the positive feedback from the trial run, the BCCI is now keen to extend it to the Indian T20 League’s 2023 season.

Let’s take a look at what the new rules mean for the future of the Indian T20 League.


Tactical substitutions in Cricket

Unlike football, substitutions were not allowed historically in the game of cricket by the ICC. The starting XI has to be declared by both captains before the fixture and the players cannot be changed regardless of their form or fitness while the match is in progress.

Under the official Laws of Cricket, a substitute can take part in fielding for the team if a player is injured or ill, but they cannot bat or bowl or act as the team’s captain.

Only in recent years has the ICC allowed concussion substitutes in international cricket, with the ICC modifying the rules to allow concussion substitutes for players gravely injured during the match. This has been necessitated both due to the increasing awareness of concussion’s effects in the long term and due to the increasing frequency of injuries that players have to deal with due to the tight schedule of the modern-day game.

However, experiments with tactical substitutions have taken place in the past, both in international and domestic cricket.

Back in 2005, the ICC allowed one tactical substitute per team in One Day Internationals, calling it the Super-Sub initiative. The trial was conducted for 10 months, with the teams allowed to substitute one player at any stage of the game.

It drew quick and sharp criticism from players and commentators, with the rule giving a distinct and unique advantage to the team that won the toss. The rule was withdrawn after both South Africa and Australia jointly agreed to boycott the system in March 2006.

The Big Bash League has introduced tactical substitution in 2020, calling it the X-factor. The rules allowed one player to be substituted after 10 overs in an innings and he could replace any player who is yet to bat or bowled just one over or less.

The rule wasn’t as widely embraced as Cricket Australia expected, but proved useful for quite a few teams in the last two seasons.


What are the rules?

The Indian T20 League is officially yet to notify of the rules for the next season with consultations with franchises still underway. However, from what can be garnered, the Impact Player rule is likely to be restricted to Indian players only.

Each team can name four additional players apart from the playing XI, with the captains declaring the names of all the players before the first ball is bowled.

Among those four players, one player can be introduced into the game at any point in the innings before the 14th over.

Unlike the concussion substitution rule which only allows “like-for-like” substitutes, the Impact Player rules are likely to allow a batsman or a bowler, or even an all-rounder to replace any player. The substitute player can bat and bowl his full quota during the remainder of the match.

Notably, the rule does not modify the four-overseas player limit that Indian T20 League maintains, and as a result, teams cannot bend around the rules to play more foreign players. The rules are also applicable only to full-fledged matches as they are not applicable if rain or other factors reduce the match to less than 10 overs.


Can it work to the advantage of teams?

While past experiments with tactical substitutions have garnered a negative reception from players, the BCCI is confident that the new rules will be widely received by the players in the Indian T20 League.

For the teams, the rules allow them to make strategic substitutions based on the actual conditions of the pitch once the games start, allowing changes in the bowling attack based on the conditions of the track.

The rules also allow for an opener batsman to be replaced by a bowler in the team’s second innings, allowing more options for the captain who wins the toss and chooses to bat first. Similarly, teams chasing a total can use a specialist bowler in the first innings and replace him with a specialist batsman while batting.

Despite being even-handed on paper, the Impact Player rules are likely to receive the same criticism that ICC’s Super-Sub rules received back in 2005. Teams winning the toss will be in greater control of the substitution tactics, introducing uncertainty into the team’s plans.

Franchises are also reportedly upset at the prospect of limiting the Impact Player rule to only Indian players as almost every team has plenty of foreign players on the bench who are going unutilised for most of the season.

With the mini-auction for the next season of the Indian T20 League coming up soon, clarity on the Impact Player rule will help franchises plan their auction strategy better. All-rounders will be negatively impacted by the introduction of this rule, while specialist batsmen and bowlers will elicit greater demand.




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