In an important move towards ensuring better safety of players, the IPL governing council has decided to allow concussion substitutes in the world’s top T20 franchise league, starting from the 2020 edition, which begins on March 29 in Mumbai.
The decision was one among a line of changes and enhancements introduced at the governing council meeting in Delhi on Monday, January 27.
According to a report on ESPNcricinfo, the match referee will be the ultimate deciding authority on who is qualified to come in as a concussion substitute. To that end, the referee can overrule a replacement if the player is deemed to not be a like-for-like, as concussion substitution rules mandate.
Concussion substitutes are a recent introduction to cricket, with the international cricket approving the use of such replacements on July 19, shortly after the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales. Exactly a month later, Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne became cricket’s first ever concussion substitute, when he replaced Steve Smith in the Lord’s Ashes Test, which Australia drew to keep their series lead intact.
Also following in the footsteps of the IPL is the decision to allow an off-field umpire to monitor no-balls. However, unlike the ICC, which had appointed the TV umpire to take charge of this responsibility, the IPL will have a fifth umpire, apart from the two on-field officials, the TV umpire and the fourth umpire, to fulfill this responsibility.
The decision comes in the wake of widespread complaints from players about the poor standards of umpiring in the league. Most notably, S Ravi, who has since been demoted from ICC’s elite panel of umpires, failed to call a no-ball during a match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians at the 2019 IPL, which cost RCB the game and prompted its captain Virat Kohli to lash out at the umpiring, calling it club cricket standard.
Among the other talking points at the meeting revolved around the start times for evening matches. Night IPL matches have traditionally begun at 8pm IST, but there have been proposals put forward to advance that time, by both the IPL governing council and the host broadcaster Star.
However, the proposal has been met with resistance from the players, who feel that an earlier start may confer an unfair advantage to one team, owing to dew. In keeping with the players’ concerns, the governing council left the start times untouched.