Substitute fielders controversy September 9, 2005

ICC to consult captains on ground rules

Cricinfo staff

Malcolm Speed has promised to look into the substitute fielding controversy next month © Getty Images

The International Cricket Council (ICC) will tackle the substitute fielder rule following the furore created by the issue during the ongoing Ashes series.

Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, told BBC Five Live that he will meet umpires and international captains in Sydney next month to debate the matter. "It's something we want to talk to the captains about and the umpires. But it's a delicate issue and a difficult issue."

Speed's comments come after Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, condemned England's regular use of substitutes during the series. Although Ponting had spoken on the issue before the series began, matters came to a head during England's three-wicket win in the fourth Test at Edgbaston. In the second innings, Ponting was run out attempting a sharp single by substitute Gary Pratt.

The incident sparked a public outburst from Ponting and he was subsequently fined 75% of his match fee. He has since then called England's repeated use of replacements a "disgrace".

England's bowlers have left the field regularly after their spells for short periods; Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, insists the breaks are to answer calls of nature and within the laws of the game. Ponting argues England have manipulated ICC regulations and that their actions violate the spirit of the game.

Speed, however, clarified England had done nothing illegal by using substitutes but added, "I think Ricky Ponting has a point there - we need to be careful that we keep it under control, define what's acceptable and the captains buy into that."

In a statistical feature in The Numbers Game last week, Cricinfo found that England's substitute fielders have effected more Test dismissals than any other team since September 2001. In 52 Tests in that period, they have dismissed 18 batsmen. Australia, on the other hand, were at the bottom of the table with only four such dismissals in 50 Tests.