July 27, 2011

The case for substitutes

Why is cricket so resistant to permitting like-for-like replacements for players who are under-par and underperforming?
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Condensed matches, fielding restrictions, Powerplays, arbitration by TV replay, "super" overs. We could while away a lunch interval counting the ways in which cricket, more than any other sport, has been open to flexibility, remaking and remodelling itself to meet the challenges of fickle fashion and a fast-forward planet. Objectionable and irrelevant as some have been, this approach to innovation has achieved the desired means, namely survival, even prosperity. If it hadn't, there would have been no queue snaking around Lord's on Monday, let alone one of such inordinate length that my son and I couldn't find the end of it (and when one's non-cricket-loving teenage son has been dragged from his slumber at 6am, a father is best advised to give up gracefully).

Yet amid all those justified paeans to the enduring appeal of the longest format, fuelled in such timely fashion by the quality and competitive fires of that splendid 2000th Test, something niggled. Which may come as a surprise to those who know me as an inveterate Pom who unabashedly craves the day when his national team peer down at all opposition. The opening round of the Pataudi Trophy series, after all, proffered a multitude of reasons to be nauseatingly cheerful. Yet there it was, a stone in my shoe. How ironic that this misgiving should concern the one area of evolution where the game remains happily mired in the Dark Ages, unable or unwilling to confront its most durable taboo.

When Zaheer Khan outsmarted and outwitted Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook last Thursday, MS Dhoni's sagacious insertion looked destined to bear fruit. Instead, a tweaked hamstring left India spearhead-free for 90% of the contest, leaving a backbreaking burden on the shoulders of Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar and Harbhajan Singh. Would the result have differed had Sreesanth or Munaf Patel been available as a reinforcement? Or, for that matter, had Yuvraj Singh been able to bat for Gautam Gambhir? Maybe, maybe not. Granted, even if Zaheer had not been stricken, victory might still have gone the way of an England side as long on mettle, grit, fibre and steely intent as they are short on passengers, but the margin could hardly have been remotely as convincing, could it?

In the immediate aftermath, publicly at least, Strauss made light of his manpower advantage - but then he would, wouldn't he? This was no time to damn his jubilant charges with diluted praise. Asked by Mike Atherton how disappointed he was with his team, Dhoni sidestepped nimbly and reeled off his casualty list, accentuating the chasm left by Zaheer's exit - but then he would, wouldn't he? Whatever angle you come from, the difference between the sides was distorted.

Sometimes pennies take time to drop. In the 1950s and early 1960s, a stream of FA Cup finals was disrupted, and often decided, by an injury, usually - crucially - to a defender. Replacements for crocked players had been allowed in the very first FIFA World Cup, in 1930, and in the qualifying phase since 1954, yet it took the Football League until 1965 to sanction substitutes. Two years later it assented to tactical switches. For rugby union, the delay was longer: replacements were officially permitted from 1968, but not until 1996 could a misfiring participant be traded for a fresher body.

Cricket's closest cousin, baseball, conversely, has employed pinch-hitters for more than a century, and primarily for strategic reasons. The 12th man, similarly, has been part of the fabric of flannelled folly since antiquity, yet how far have we progressed along that particular curve? Allowing them to field in the slips and occasionally keep wicket. The England and Wales Cricket Board has empowered counties to replace a player summoned for international duty during Championship fixtures, or incorporate one ditched from a Test XII, but while that may be progress, it doesn't get anywhere near even the neighbourhood of the crux of the matter.

Not that there haven't been abuses aplenty. Earlier this month, and not a moment prematurely, the ICC revised its playing conditions so that substitutions will no longer be permissible when players leave the field for what is ubiquitously referred to as the "comfort break". The Laws have not altered, as Fraser Stewart of the MCC's Laws Department recently clarified: "ICC's tweak is a reaffirmation of what is laid down in any case. Under Law 2.1(c) a substitute fielder may act only for a player who is ill or injured or, at the umpire's discretion, for 'other wholly acceptable reasons'." So far as the governing body is concerned, circumstances must be extreme. No longer will it be acceptable to nip off, without leaving the skipper shorthanded, for a change of boots (read massage) or a quick pee (read Twitter update or natter with agent). Regrets will not be profound.

But why, especially in a game that spans days rather than tens of minutes, should a team still be disadvantaged so grievously by misfortune such as that which befell Zaheer and India? While other team games, being more physically demanding, had a more obvious and pressing need to adopt substitutions, we're not talking about a lag time of a decade or two here but half a century, at best. Nor are the counter-arguments terribly compelling.

IN STATING HIS OBJECTIONS, a fellow scribe with whom I habitually concur on pretty much everything cricketing, from the wonders of VVS Laxman to the blunders of not picking Mark Ramprakash for England in the mid-to-late-2000s, was not only adamant but uncharacteristically vehement: as logical and fair as replacements for the injured and lame would be - and he, too, lamented the imbalance caused by Zaheer's withdrawal, as any person possessed of a functioning brain should - the inevitable upshot, tactical substitutions, would make it the thin end of a craggy wedge.

Besides, he reasoned, even if the lawmakers stopped short of this, the scope for corruption would be immense. Anyone who has seen Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday, and hence James Woods' immaculate flesh-creeping turn as the doctor who allows a frequently concussed linebacker to take the field and all but die, will testify to the unconscionable depths to which it is already possible for the medical fraternity to plunge. How many physios would suddenly discover a mysterious ailment in a new-baller who'd been biffed for 200 in the first innings, or a misbehaving metatarsal in a batsman who'd gone first ball?

When the outcome of a match revolves around an opponent's health, whether determined by a heavy fall, a short ball to the ribs or an accumulation of strain, the victor's satisfaction can never be complete

The nauseous aversion to tactical substitutions, though, has long bemused. If a player is under-par and underperforming, and thus undermining the collective effort, why is cricket, of all team games, so unblinkingly resistant to permitting a like-for-like replacement?

This might have been tolerable in less tumultuous times, but Grace, Bradman and Worrell didn't have to contend with the Future Tours Programme, much less the lure of the IPL. Reasonable as it may be to forecast that permitting strategic changes would denude the captain's authority and hence pass even more power to the coach, that doesn't strike me as a regression. The former has enough on his plate as it is; would it not be preferable to share the load than be saddled with the sole responsibility of dropping a colleague mid-match, not to mention the prickly fallout?

Admittedly some sports have been too accommodating, too generous. As rugby union became (officially) professional, so a 15-man game transmogrified into a 22-man parade-cum-charade, although given the increased pace and bodily toll, this made more than a soup├žon of sense; turning soccer into a 16-man game still feels like an unwarranted indulgence. Cricket scarcely requires such excesses.

Once Pandora's box is opened, there can be no closing it. We've already been down that road with TV replays and where has that got us? Well, to a juster game, since you ask, and hence a better one, however manful the BCCI's attempts to keep a lid on it. If we added a substitute batsman and bowler, to cover all eventualities, and cricket teams became XIIIs instead of XIs, would it really be such a dreadful concession to modernity?

The influence exerted by fortune, outrageous or otherwise, is all part of the human drama; only a killjoy would deny luck its role in sport. Without it, how many triumphs by the little guy would be no more than valiant failures? But when the outcome of a match revolves around an opponent's health, whether determined by a heavy fall, a short ball to the ribs or an accumulation of strain, the victor's satisfaction can never be complete.

Unlike life, and however short it may fall, sport can aspire to perfection because, at bottom, it matters enough to render risk worthwhile but not enough to make the consequences of failure unbearable. In accepting no substitutes, cricket has been far too conservative for far too long.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY mysecretme on | July 29, 2011, 2:19 GMT

    Guys think about players whose careers (could)have ended because they were doing something they were not good at. One of your squad fast bowlers getting hit by a bouncer/diving in the field and getting a career threatening injury? Batsmen fielding in close-in positions and getting injured? Look at the number of fast bowlers who had to end their careers because of over use. Having separate batting, bowling and fielding teams will be a good way to solve some of these problems. And it would not be the death of allrounders. Good allrounders can be in both 11's. Although for bits and pieces players it would be impossible. But I think guys like Kallis, Flower, Watson, Imran Khan etc would be in more than one 11's. You can even keep the requirement that the captain (and/or vice-captain) needs to be in both fielding as well as one of the other 11's. Countries struggling to find the 33 can always use bits and pieces players to fill up their 11's. The 11's would be announced before the match.

  • POSTED BY binojpeter on | July 28, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    After seeing WI suffering due to the loss of Rampaul during the entire first innings in the Third Test against India and India now suffering from the loss of Zaheer Khan in the First Test against England, I feel ICC should allow like-for-like substitution so that team does not suffer for the loss of one key player especially in Tests.

  • POSTED BY AsherCA on | July 28, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    I for one am all for a 15 member team. Even the supersub, a concept which would have been brilliant if used well was not used very well. Imagine - India Vs Australia, perfect I bat first conditions. Supersubs - India - Sachin Tendulkar Australia - Ricky Ponting. What would the captain winning the toss do ? If he bats first, the opposition uses their best 5 bowlers & then, Glen McGrath gets replaced with Ponting OR Munaf Patel gets replaced with Sachin ! If he fields first and the opposition gets off to a flier what happens ? OR - pitch expected to help seamers all day India Super Sub - Zaheer Khan Australia Supersub - Glen McGrath Field first & you know - one of the opposition's batsmen will be replaced with a top class seam bowler. Bat first & if the opposition's remaining bowlers bowl well, the media will have a field day on you.

  • POSTED BY py0alb on | July 28, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    I think we can all agree that: 1) injury only subs are too open to abuse. 2) like-for-like rules are unworkable. 3) rolling substitutes or mass substitutions of 3 or 4 players is going too far and will affect the game too much.... I do think a substitute should be allowed at any time though: if your bowler is crocked, why should you wait until the opposition have racked up 500 before you can replace him? Just get the sub on immediately. I think one substitute, chosen from a shortlist of 3 (one batsman, one bowler, one keeper) named before the game, and its up to the captain whether he goes for a like-for-like replacement for an injured or out-of-form player or makes a single tactical switch instead. The only argument against this seems to be "tradition, tradition, tradition", which isn't much of an argument at all.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    As cricket has its two phases of batting and fielding, so American Football has two parrallel phases of offence and defence. At professional level these are served by entirely different squads; a game which allows only 11 players on the field at any one time requires a squad of 40+ to be in attendance, and players are highly specialised to their positions to the degree that it is (almost) unknown for a player to appear "on both sides of the ball". Tactical substitution at cricket can only lead, in time, to a parrallel situation of a Batting X1 and a Bowling X1. I'm not saying that would not be entertaining, but it will change the game for ever. Allrounders will disappear. The fact that Broad, Bresnan and Swann are all useful batsmen will no longer be a consideration at selection time, nor the fact tha Collingwood can bowl a dozen tidy overs if push comes to shove. And we shall never again see No 11s who "can't bat"trying to play out the last over through gritten teeth to secure a draw.

  • POSTED BY I.RAGHURAM on | July 28, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    I think, substitutions can be brought back in One Day & T-20. It can be unlimited substitutions. In other words, the team nominates the entire 15 member squad to play, though only eleven would bat/bowl/field. There would be eleven fielders including the baller and wicketkeeper with unlimited substitutions from the reserve four players. The captain / coach would have the option of deciding the batting eleven from the 15 players as the game progresses. The same would be for the bowlers. If a bowler goes for plenty of runs, the fielding captain would have the option of substituting him with another bowler from the reserve 4 players. This I feel, would make the game especially T-20 cricket more interesting with strategic substitutions coming into play and team winning even from hopeless positions..... ANY TAKERS ???

  • POSTED BY John-Price on | July 28, 2011, 8:19 GMT

    The concept of like-for-like substitutes is utterly unworkable. The laws do not recognise the concept of specialist batsmen or bowlers for the reason that all players are able to participate in both disciplines. Critically, bowlers have widely varying batting skills so the substitution of say, Glenn McGrath with Brett Lee may be like-for-like in bowling terms but is anything but in batting terms. Also, as we found out last week, India's wicket-keeper is also the fourth seamer - where do you find a like-for-like for him? Furthermore, an 'injuries only' rule is equally unworkable. The only scheme I can see working is an absolute right to change one payer between the third and fourth innings. What would happen then is if a team were struggling (say, following on) it would bring in a defensive batsman to replace a bowler and help block out the last two days. And how would that help the game?

  • POSTED BY himanshu.team on | July 28, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Point 1: I personally found the articel a bit boring, though I love the topic Point 2: I favor substitutes in cricket. Though I never liked the idea of super-sub as it was poorly though off and executed even worse. In my view, as it happens in some warm up gamesand in football a side should give the list of their first 11 and remaining 3 or 4 or 5 substitutes. The idea should be if a player gets injured during a test, or simply is not playing well, he can be replaced at any time as per the choice of his captain. But again just like football, a player once substituted should not be allowed to play again in that game. So it should not happen that you substitute all proper batsmen with bowlers at the end of first innings (Or vice-versa) and do the reverse at the end of second. That would really test the true deapth of a team. In one-day games where toss is extremely crucial the final 11 can be decided after the toss. it will really make things interesting.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 4:52 GMT

    HI, NIce article. yes substitutes in cricket will bring in more excitement. teams can win from bad situations or vice versa. it would be good if during the toss the captains exchange the list of playing 11 along with 3 substitutes. the captains can choose any 3 substitutes based on their own assessment of the pitch and conditions. having 3 substitutes (can be 1 bowler, 1 batsmen and 1 all rounder) will ensure that the game will remain balanced and matches which are decided on the toss will be thing of the past. it might look like an advantage for the team batting second, but every one will have a fair choice to make before the game begins.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 3:17 GMT

    I would agree but three things 1) substitutes can only come in for the 2nd innings 2) substitutes can't bat - otherwise any team that is losing will add another batsman to help draw 3) only one substitute allowed

  • POSTED BY mysecretme on | July 29, 2011, 2:19 GMT

    Guys think about players whose careers (could)have ended because they were doing something they were not good at. One of your squad fast bowlers getting hit by a bouncer/diving in the field and getting a career threatening injury? Batsmen fielding in close-in positions and getting injured? Look at the number of fast bowlers who had to end their careers because of over use. Having separate batting, bowling and fielding teams will be a good way to solve some of these problems. And it would not be the death of allrounders. Good allrounders can be in both 11's. Although for bits and pieces players it would be impossible. But I think guys like Kallis, Flower, Watson, Imran Khan etc would be in more than one 11's. You can even keep the requirement that the captain (and/or vice-captain) needs to be in both fielding as well as one of the other 11's. Countries struggling to find the 33 can always use bits and pieces players to fill up their 11's. The 11's would be announced before the match.

  • POSTED BY binojpeter on | July 28, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    After seeing WI suffering due to the loss of Rampaul during the entire first innings in the Third Test against India and India now suffering from the loss of Zaheer Khan in the First Test against England, I feel ICC should allow like-for-like substitution so that team does not suffer for the loss of one key player especially in Tests.

  • POSTED BY AsherCA on | July 28, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    I for one am all for a 15 member team. Even the supersub, a concept which would have been brilliant if used well was not used very well. Imagine - India Vs Australia, perfect I bat first conditions. Supersubs - India - Sachin Tendulkar Australia - Ricky Ponting. What would the captain winning the toss do ? If he bats first, the opposition uses their best 5 bowlers & then, Glen McGrath gets replaced with Ponting OR Munaf Patel gets replaced with Sachin ! If he fields first and the opposition gets off to a flier what happens ? OR - pitch expected to help seamers all day India Super Sub - Zaheer Khan Australia Supersub - Glen McGrath Field first & you know - one of the opposition's batsmen will be replaced with a top class seam bowler. Bat first & if the opposition's remaining bowlers bowl well, the media will have a field day on you.

  • POSTED BY py0alb on | July 28, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    I think we can all agree that: 1) injury only subs are too open to abuse. 2) like-for-like rules are unworkable. 3) rolling substitutes or mass substitutions of 3 or 4 players is going too far and will affect the game too much.... I do think a substitute should be allowed at any time though: if your bowler is crocked, why should you wait until the opposition have racked up 500 before you can replace him? Just get the sub on immediately. I think one substitute, chosen from a shortlist of 3 (one batsman, one bowler, one keeper) named before the game, and its up to the captain whether he goes for a like-for-like replacement for an injured or out-of-form player or makes a single tactical switch instead. The only argument against this seems to be "tradition, tradition, tradition", which isn't much of an argument at all.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    As cricket has its two phases of batting and fielding, so American Football has two parrallel phases of offence and defence. At professional level these are served by entirely different squads; a game which allows only 11 players on the field at any one time requires a squad of 40+ to be in attendance, and players are highly specialised to their positions to the degree that it is (almost) unknown for a player to appear "on both sides of the ball". Tactical substitution at cricket can only lead, in time, to a parrallel situation of a Batting X1 and a Bowling X1. I'm not saying that would not be entertaining, but it will change the game for ever. Allrounders will disappear. The fact that Broad, Bresnan and Swann are all useful batsmen will no longer be a consideration at selection time, nor the fact tha Collingwood can bowl a dozen tidy overs if push comes to shove. And we shall never again see No 11s who "can't bat"trying to play out the last over through gritten teeth to secure a draw.

  • POSTED BY I.RAGHURAM on | July 28, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    I think, substitutions can be brought back in One Day & T-20. It can be unlimited substitutions. In other words, the team nominates the entire 15 member squad to play, though only eleven would bat/bowl/field. There would be eleven fielders including the baller and wicketkeeper with unlimited substitutions from the reserve four players. The captain / coach would have the option of deciding the batting eleven from the 15 players as the game progresses. The same would be for the bowlers. If a bowler goes for plenty of runs, the fielding captain would have the option of substituting him with another bowler from the reserve 4 players. This I feel, would make the game especially T-20 cricket more interesting with strategic substitutions coming into play and team winning even from hopeless positions..... ANY TAKERS ???

  • POSTED BY John-Price on | July 28, 2011, 8:19 GMT

    The concept of like-for-like substitutes is utterly unworkable. The laws do not recognise the concept of specialist batsmen or bowlers for the reason that all players are able to participate in both disciplines. Critically, bowlers have widely varying batting skills so the substitution of say, Glenn McGrath with Brett Lee may be like-for-like in bowling terms but is anything but in batting terms. Also, as we found out last week, India's wicket-keeper is also the fourth seamer - where do you find a like-for-like for him? Furthermore, an 'injuries only' rule is equally unworkable. The only scheme I can see working is an absolute right to change one payer between the third and fourth innings. What would happen then is if a team were struggling (say, following on) it would bring in a defensive batsman to replace a bowler and help block out the last two days. And how would that help the game?

  • POSTED BY himanshu.team on | July 28, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Point 1: I personally found the articel a bit boring, though I love the topic Point 2: I favor substitutes in cricket. Though I never liked the idea of super-sub as it was poorly though off and executed even worse. In my view, as it happens in some warm up gamesand in football a side should give the list of their first 11 and remaining 3 or 4 or 5 substitutes. The idea should be if a player gets injured during a test, or simply is not playing well, he can be replaced at any time as per the choice of his captain. But again just like football, a player once substituted should not be allowed to play again in that game. So it should not happen that you substitute all proper batsmen with bowlers at the end of first innings (Or vice-versa) and do the reverse at the end of second. That would really test the true deapth of a team. In one-day games where toss is extremely crucial the final 11 can be decided after the toss. it will really make things interesting.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 4:52 GMT

    HI, NIce article. yes substitutes in cricket will bring in more excitement. teams can win from bad situations or vice versa. it would be good if during the toss the captains exchange the list of playing 11 along with 3 substitutes. the captains can choose any 3 substitutes based on their own assessment of the pitch and conditions. having 3 substitutes (can be 1 bowler, 1 batsmen and 1 all rounder) will ensure that the game will remain balanced and matches which are decided on the toss will be thing of the past. it might look like an advantage for the team batting second, but every one will have a fair choice to make before the game begins.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 3:17 GMT

    I would agree but three things 1) substitutes can only come in for the 2nd innings 2) substitutes can't bat - otherwise any team that is losing will add another batsman to help draw 3) only one substitute allowed

  • POSTED BY Incisor on | July 28, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    I agree totally 100% with Allblue. Select guys that are going to struggle through the test and you must pay the consequences if they pull up lame. The first XI selections are indeed a part of strategy to select the first Xi fully fit and best players and sadly India's strategy for the 1st test simply was not good enough. India was therefore comprehensively defeated and thats what they thoroughly deserved due to thier selections.

  • POSTED BY sifter132 on | July 28, 2011, 2:23 GMT

    deggles has the best plan. Allow ONE sub (to start with at least), to be made between the 2nd and 3rd innings ONLY. That way it shouldn't be a batsman for bowler type swap which would lower all-rounders value, it should just be used for an injured player or perhaps for a player who has been awful.

  • POSTED BY mysecretme on | July 28, 2011, 0:07 GMT

    @Yorkshirepudding: No matey, I'm serious. I am quite sick of seeing bits and pieces Ronnie Irani's getting included in the game for giggles. If you want all rounders, try out the likes of Kallis who can come into the team based on their talent in one of the disciplines of the game. Anyday, I would take a Petersen/Dravid vs McGrath/Bond against Ronnie Irani vs Steven Smith. I am saying this because most of the cricket teams suffer from this problem they have good players but they can not include them in the team because the "balance of the team" is not right. Test cricket is supposed to be a test of skill and then endurance. Off late, its becoming more of the endurance part and less of the skill aspect. Also why would the game not be more interesting with better batsmen, better bowlers and better fielders thrown in? You would have better everything!!! Bond, Akhtar, Malinga et al would've still been playing if that were the case.

  • POSTED BY __PK on | July 27, 2011, 22:11 GMT

    I tend to think it's all or nothing - no substitutions or unlimited, reversable interchanges from a fixed squad (of, say 13 or 14). The only limitation would be that you can't sub a batsman mid-innings or a bowler mid-over. Why has cricket been so resistant so far? Easy answer - because it would make all individual statistical records inconsistent with prior tests, not to mention disrupt the format of scoreboards, scorecards, etc, around the world. This would be a massive and expensive change to implement. When Australian domestic cricket trialled the split-innings limited over game last season, none of the existing infrastructure could cope with it. And Test cricket fans are purists - they would expect their score updates and stats to be perfect.

  • POSTED BY drice on | July 27, 2011, 21:44 GMT

    Why the obsession over like for like? In football a team trailing late in a game will substitute a striker . Why is it a big issue if the batting team chasing replaces a bowler with a batsman on the last day. Or the fielding team an extra bowler or even a better fielder. That can be part of the game. The only thing is to limit number of substitutes. Why are fans of test cricket so stuck in the concrete of the past. Why is strategically substituting a bats man for a bowler or vice versa corrupt. Simply have a XIII named at the beginning of the match and the starting XI and the captain/ coach makes changes at his discretion. Simple uncluttered system, could even be XII if u think XIII is excessive. Adds to the strategy of the game. Simple as that.

  • POSTED BY mcheckley on | July 27, 2011, 21:25 GMT

    A cricket team takes part in two very different phases - batting and fielding / bowling. The wish tactically to replace batsmen with bowlers or vice versa immediately prior to the fourth innings would always be there. That would fundamentally alter the game; how well one's bowlers can bat or how usefully one or two of one's batsmen can bowl, and how well they all field are important parameters for selection AT THE START - Collingwood's ability to be the "fifth bowler in a four man attack", for example, having been a consideration for England. And yet one does not want to see players forced to try to play with REAL injuries and make themselves worse, nor the worst possible scenario, a team beaten because they had to bat with ten men, the eleventh being in hospital. A compromise is to allow ONE pre-named substitute (presumably teams would choose some sort of all-rounder), accept that such a player WILL be used tactically in the fourth innings if not required before, and leave it there.

  • POSTED BY crikkfan on | July 27, 2011, 21:19 GMT

    I am not entirely convinced. But if you want to trial anything, first class cricket is the place to try it first. Why not implement this 9+2+sub strategy in Ranji and County for a season and then evaluate its merits/demerits with a panel of accomplished cricketers and ex-cricketers? When a change is made to the test cricket laws, it should not be a half-baked product (semi-DRS anyone).

  • POSTED BY allblue on | July 27, 2011, 20:25 GMT

    Rob, there is a fundamental flaw in your premise. You'll remember a time when a team took to the field with five bowlers as a matter of course. If one got injured the other four would carry on. The Windies changed the template with their four man pace battery, although they bent the rules by bowling only 12 or 13 overs an hour, causing the minimum overs rule to be brought in. The modern template is six batsmen plus batsman/keeper (i.e. seven batsmen) and four bowlers, but no-one forces a captain to pick such a team with its inherent risk. If India felt that a patently unfit Zaheer was essential they had the option of batting Dhoni at six and playing five bowlers as cover, but they chose not to. Team selection is as much a part of Test cricket strategy as any other, going in with four bowlers is a calculated risk, and the all-round ability of the team one of the qualities that rightly determines the winners and losers.

  • POSTED BY saivich on | July 27, 2011, 19:39 GMT

    I think 'Mumbai_Kar' makes a great point. While, injury is one thing; substituting players as a part of a captain's strategy would only make test cricket more interesting.

  • POSTED BY CoffeeBeaker on | July 27, 2011, 19:06 GMT

    How do you define a like-for-like replacement? At present you just name 11 players, you don't anywhere have to specify what their function in the side is. If Kevin Pietersen got injured then could you replace him with a specialist off-spinner on the basis that you were relying on him bowling a few overs? Even if they introduced a convoluted system of captains having to specify before the match who in the side is a bowler and who is a batsmen, you could still replace your entire lower order in a fourth-innings run chase with bowlers who can bat. For example Broad and Bresnan could replace Anderson and Finn. You're still replacing a bowler with a bowler but they have a better chance of scoring the runs. Substitutes work brilliantly in baseball and they're one of the great subtleties of that game but it's completely different. Even if we could be certain the system would never be abused, picking the right 11 and balancing the side is a huge part of cricket, we shouldn't remove it.

  • POSTED BY Aniruddha_K on | July 27, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    I agree...... Substitutions would only make the game more exciting.... so what if they are tactical substitutions? If you only allow a fixed number of substitutions per game, without adding the rule that only injured players can be replaced, there would be not much scope for the so called corruption... I think it is a good thought..... the only question is whether players and administrators are ready to accept this change

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 18:36 GMT

    As for "like-for-like" substitutions, the ICC will have to establish a system of player classifications: specialist batsmen, specialist bowlers, bowling allrounders, batting allrounders, etc. Rules will have to be established to ensure that teams do not intentionally mis-classify their players. How would you classify Suresh Raina? Probably as a bowling all-rounder. And what if the team declares that Raina is a specialist bowler in order to get him in Munaf Patel's place after the team has already bowled? Clearly you'll need detailed rules to ensure that there is no incentive to mis-classify. This will make the rules extremely complicated, even by the standards of cricket. The author has clearly not thought things through before putting pen to paper.

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    How can you argue for substitutes in cricket without even addressing the issue of allrounders? The main reason why substitution won't work is that once a team has batted, they will replace a specialist batsman with a specialist bowler, thus making all but the best of allrounders redundant. Surely this is not in the interest of cricket, and surely this is how the rule will be used more often. Before you say that substitutions should be allowed only for injuries, let me add that there is no way of checking if a sprain is being feigned, this making such a restriction impracticable.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | July 27, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    @mysecretme, you're having a laugh arnt you, you cannot be the remotest bit serieous about your suggestion. why not just rip up the cricket squares and put diamonds down.

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    Good thought Tom Layton....but ICC is too blind to see all this

  • POSTED BY saivich on | July 27, 2011, 16:25 GMT

    @Donda: You say "No substitution should be allowed in any form of cricket. .......and if a player get injure , it's his falt that he was not fully fit for the match."

    While I do understand your point. Let us consider that Gambhir gets a full blooded shot on his head when fielding in FSL on the first day of a test match. He has to be carried in a stretcher; there is no way he can play the rest of the match. You cannot say it is Gambhir's fault or for that matter, the batsman's fault. Now, is it not prudent to substitute Gambhir with a like batsman that should also be allowed to bat? However under the given rules this cannot be done. I think Rob has a great point and cricket should introduce like for like substitutions.

  • POSTED BY Mumbai_Kar on | July 27, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    I think that's a brilliant idea, worth serious discussion. Soccer runs just 90 minutes, and allows subs, as do other sports, so why not cricket? 'IT IS TEST CRICKET!' might sound macho, but does not go far as an argument.

    Consider this : a declared team of 14, with a 'starting 11' that play the first day. Each morning, the captain has to confirm the 11 that will play that whole day, from that pool of 14. Essentially, it will come down to choosing who in the previous day's 11 would be replaced. The reason could be injury, or tactics - the captain's prerogative. Good times, the starting 11 could play all 5 days. If a batsman struggles and is totally out of sorts, another could be given a chance. If a spinner is not getting any turn at all, another - pacer or spinner - gets a try. Could be so many ways the match could turn.

    And what should drive this change? Audience interest! Here we are talking about making Test Cricket more interesting and competitive - and this could be it!

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 16:20 GMT

    Why not make 9 that cannot be replaced + 2 that can be at the start of the game ? The 2 can be replaced for any reason ( injury/non-performance ).

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 16:09 GMT

    This will encourage teams to risk with their injured players more. With the idea of substitution in mind, Indian would have gone with picking Sehwag and that would be even more fatal for the team. I think Lords was a great, but rare misfortune. India can survive that and move on to win the next 3. We don't need to alter Cricket's rules for that.

  • POSTED BY Gary_111 on | July 27, 2011, 15:34 GMT

    I think you mean goalkeeper rather than defender don't you Rob, when referring to FA Cup finals in the 50s/60s?

  • POSTED BY John-Price on | July 27, 2011, 15:28 GMT

    Something similar was tried in ODIs recently. Has Rob Steen forgotten? What a pathetic, pointless fiasco that turned out to be; making the game more complex without increasing interest by the smallest fraction or increasing attendance by a single person. 'Hang your heads in shame' Bob Willis told the ICC cricket committee. The same message applies to those approving of this aweful suggestion.

  • POSTED BY Deuce03 on | July 27, 2011, 15:28 GMT

    I can understand the argument, but I don't entirely agree with it. Firstly, it limits opportunities for all-rounders, and they're a dying breed as it is, if specialists can be subbed for each other. Secondly, tactical substitution might encourage teams to hand away Test caps more cheaply- blooding a new player in a game which is either obviously meandering to a draw, or where a win is inevitable, which cheapens the format. Perhaps if a player is hauled off the pitch after suffering a match-ending injury (Simon Jones, Ryan Harris, etc) there's a case for it. I certainly think that runners should be allowed to remain. However, if a player breaks down through poor fitness (eg Zaheer here, Bollinger at Adelaide, etc.) or is carrying an injury into the match which flares up, that's something the team management should have dealt with before they take the field, and the Laws shouldnt' be expected to bail them out.

    I'm inclined to agree with alexbraae's ideas.

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    the SUPER SUB rule was used in 2005.......u had to name a player before the toss and could change him i think till the stert of second innings in one day....some thing like that maybe for an injury on the first 2 days of a test.....WHAT SAY?

  • POSTED BY Truemans_Ghost on | July 27, 2011, 14:50 GMT

    My first reaction is "no", but, thinking aloud, how about youallow one substitution designate subs to specific players before the match- so in England's case, Ravi bopara might be the sub for all the batsmen, Bresnan for the bowlers, Keiswetter for tthe keepr. If KP pulls a fetlock you have no choice but to bring Ravi on. You could then take the chance of allocating Bresnan as sub to one or more batsmen (say, Morgan) with the intention of having the option of a tactical substition later but if morgan goes lame, you have to bring the bowler in..... No... I still don't like it.

  • POSTED BY py0alb on | July 27, 2011, 14:26 GMT

    I actually agree. I think this would add far more to Test cricket than it would take away.

    There are no "rolling" subs. The list of potential subs have to be named before the toss. No reason has to be given for the change. I can see three variations: 2 subs named: 2 changes allowed 2 subs named: 1 change allowed 1 sub named: 1 change allowed.

    I think I favour the middle option - with 13 men in the squad, but only one change allowed to take place. This would give the captain the option of a spare bat and a spare bowler, but only the strategic use of one of them.

    I think this could add an interesting edge to the game. Swap in a batsman for a bowler in a 4th inning run chase, be forced to bring in a replacement straight away in case of injury, keep a spinner on the bench and take out a quick for the last innings as the pitch deteriorates. All sorts of fascinating potential permutations.

  • POSTED BY inswing on | July 27, 2011, 14:14 GMT

    The concept of "like-for-like" is tricky. Players have varying degrees of bowling and batting abilities and it is not clear which players would be "equivalent" to another player. For example, if India is batting on the 5th day to save the test, can Irfan Pathan replace Zaheer? Both are bowlers so one could argue that it is a like-for-like replacement, but Pathan is a better batsman. Pathan never has to bowl so his bowling doesn't matter. That could help you save the test. One has to distinguish between what is "abuse", what is "strategic" and what is making up for a "misfortune". The devil is in the details.

  • POSTED BY IlMagnifico on | July 27, 2011, 14:14 GMT

    Your main line of argument seems to be -- baseball/soccer/another sport does it, why not cricket? Hmm...is that even a genuine question? "Misfortune" is part of cricket (also see- bad umpiring, weather delays/cancellations) Zaheer Khan's predicament was not misfortune....it was lack of training. Hamstrings are not pulled due to excessive wear...they are pulled due to excessive force being applied with little or no ramp-up (also see - voluntary absence from cricket). Plenty of players have played with "tweaked" hamstrings. A cricket player does not give up playing until he has to be carried out of the ground on a stretcher. Then again, a player/team that's not focused and/or methodical on match prep will stand to lose from such situations. I say, it's a GOOD rule in that it forces a bit of pre-planning, dedication and grit from players and team managements involved.

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 14:07 GMT

    Firstly I don't think we should allow substitutions just for injury becuase it is all too easy to fake an injury. For those who say use an independent doctor, I am a doctor who works in sport science. If I was there and had to decide whether a player was genuinely injured or "putting it on", I would alwsys err on the side of caution and say "yes you can have a sub" because if I say no, said player goes back on field becuase his team are really strugging and then seriuosly aggravates his injury, as I have a duty of care in law I could be the one to end up in court. Now another option of course is to allow a team to pick 12 or 13 players and allow 11 to bat and 11 to field which would remove the risk of player faking injury. Again I am myself against this becuase we would never have the fun of watching the likes of Devon Malcolm, Tuffers and Chris Martin have a bat.

  • POSTED BY RussDegnan on | July 27, 2011, 14:01 GMT

    Previous comments have it correct; any open substitution rule will be abused by the side batting 4th to create pinch hitters. The simplest means to prevent that is to limit substitutions to one time: between the 2nd and 3rd innings, and by number (perhaps at most 3). I actually like that idea, because I'd like to see fast bowlers bowling quick before being rotated, instead of retiring at 30 to play T20; I'd like to see spinners working in tandem on a wearing pitch; I'd like to see teams swap a plodder for an attacking batsman to chase quick runs; or vice-versa. There is no particular merit in respecting tradition if it means watching Dhoni bowl in hope of a declaration, when he could have been bowling Sreesanth in search of a win.

  • POSTED BY Anurag_India on | July 27, 2011, 13:42 GMT

    I concur. Replacements should be allowed in case of injuries or players taking ill, especially in Test matches as they last 5 days. Maybe let a technical committe judge the each case on its merit. Then a like for like replacement from the full team of 14/15/17 should be allowed. This would also mean the home team will need to announce a full team as well and not just 12 players to prevent some more of the home advantage.

  • POSTED BY concerned_cricketer on | July 27, 2011, 13:41 GMT

    It is an interesting question that's been posed. But think of tennis - rewind to the French open a couple of years back when an injured Nadal was beaten by Robin Soderling. Similarly, when such things happen history should be written with phrases such as "Unfortunately India lost Mr Khan on the first morning,,..." or "As fate would have it...." etc. These things are very much part of cricket. In cricket literature there are umpteen instances of cricket careers that fizzled out due to players missing their one big opportunity in life due to delhi belly or getting drunk on the previous night and missing the train the next morning and such other things. Read 'Penguins Stopped Play' or 'Fatty Batter' etc.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | July 27, 2011, 13:24 GMT

    if this idea was to become a reality then shaun tait and brett lee would be making test comebacks. dont think the poms or indians would want that therefore this sub thing will never happen.

  • POSTED BY JimBobBirnie on | July 27, 2011, 13:15 GMT

    Cricket's incompatibility to substitutes cannot go away because a team requires a number of different specialisms which become redundant as the game progresses. It also contains a cut off point (the end of the 3rd innings) beyond which it becomes desirable for your team to contain different specialisms than earlier and thus beyond which it would be desirable to make substitutions that are unconstrained by matching specialisms. It is thus virtually impossible to create a "fair" system as any such system would fall apart over how to define "like for like" and under which circumstances substitutions could apply each specialism.

    Apart from the technicalities, what is wrong with it the way it is? Endurance and luck with injuries are part of the game and alter its balance. Weather can make for unfair contests, does anybody suggest we should somehow remove the vagaries of weather from cricket?

  • POSTED BY Mark00 on | July 27, 2011, 13:10 GMT

    There's a reason it's called a test. It's a test, not just of ability, but spirit and determination. It's in moments of adversity that a man is truly tested and in those moments come greatness. Marshall was never a great batsman but when he batted with a broken hand was such a moment of greatness that would not be possible if substitutes were allowed. Like the bouncer restrictions, allowing substitutes would further push tests to the saccharin oblivion which is feared by all true lovers of the greatest game. A test is meant to be gladiatorial combat in whites. That's what it was for Bradman. That's what it was for Richards. No quarter asked. None given. Stop whining. Suck it up. Pull your self up by the bootstraps and get by with a little help from your friends.

  • POSTED BY NickHughes on | July 27, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    No. Tactical substitutions would be horrible in cricket. This is test cricket, and players should go out and compete for 5 days and captains and selectors should do their best to select the best team and not rely on substitutions to bail them out when they choose a player out of form. It would, as Mr. Steen's colleague claimed, be the thin end of a nasty wedge. As for injury subs, the heart says yes, the head says no. Open to abuse, as witnessed during the Duncan Fletcher years of England managership when players went off for any number of vague complaints only to be substituted with super-fielders. Cricket should be true to itself, not pander to Football or Rugby trends. Also, Mr. Steen, you are wrong about Ramprakash: He doesn't have big match temperament and England did alright without him in the 2000s.

  • POSTED BY Wharfeseamer on | July 27, 2011, 13:02 GMT

    I could just about go with 1 replacement for a player suffering an impact injury that prevents them carrying on.. But a muscle injury isn't misfortune it's bad preparation (usually) and no substitute should be allowed for that. No strategic or, heaven forbid tactical, substitutions at all!

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 12:29 GMT

    I cannot agree with Rob Steen's take on this, and very much agree with Woody111. It's a game of 30 hours, and you train and get fitness to reflect that reality. Test match cricket cannot be compared to a contact sport of 80 or 90 minutes long.

  • POSTED BY Danny7 on | July 27, 2011, 12:07 GMT

    I agree with most people in that if you allow subs, they WILL be abused. Much like runners, much like 12th men in the field.

    England were great at it.

    I would suggest a couple of rules for the subs.

    It has to be the 12th man. Changes have to be made before the 3rd inning The player in question cannot play the next test.

    I feel that would limit the potential abuse somewhat. Although putting a time limit on it is a tough one. Say England name the same team, bat first and rack up 600+. What are the odds of Bresnan coming in for Morgan? Adding a 5th bowler in a game which, if England went on to win, would mean they cannot be defeated in the series.

    OK with my rules Morgan cannot play the next test, but sealing a minimum tie in the series would probably be a risk some teams would take.

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 11:48 GMT

    You cannot have like to like replacements because it an be abused too.For example India can blood in raina or yuvraj as a spinner in place of a spinner if they need an extra batsman.And substitution for injuries we already know is abused a lot.I think they should allow substitutions maybe limited to two or three for any reason injury or strategy.This would make for really interesting strategies in an already high strategy game.So a team can go for four fast bowler on first three days and maybe replace them with two spinners in next two days.Or the batting team could replace a bowler with an extra batsman in fourth innings.What do you guys think??

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 11:17 GMT

    In the case of Khan, he came into the match under-prepared and got found out. If you pick players who aren't at full fitness, then that's your problem. Aussies paid the price recently in India, when Bollinger was tearing them apart but got injured in the final innings. No discussion of substitutions then (oh wait, that's because it wasn't an Indian bowler). And some of the greatest acts of sporting heroism come when players can battle through their injury. I wouldn't mind seeing 12 a side matches in the shorter forms, where 11 bat and 11 bowl, so theoretically your worst batter can sit out the batting innings and just come out to bowl. But the reason why test cricket is great is because it is a group of 11 players trying to win a match over 5 days, and it is your own fault if you pick a player who is underprepared.

  • POSTED BY Buggsy on | July 27, 2011, 11:15 GMT

    I can't agree with this at all. As others have mentioned, that's what the test in test cricket is for; it's a game of endurance and showing up half fit for a game would soon become the norm. In the Zaheer case, India could have taken their chances with him and, fully knowing that he wasn't match ready, be able to substitute if he didn't work out. That kind of tactic would just be insulting. I was disappointed with the imbalance as well but the fact is Zaheer was not fit for test cricket and India got what they deserved for their ignorance.

  • POSTED BY Stark62 on | July 27, 2011, 11:04 GMT

    A good idea would be to have 3 substitutes but only one can be used but if an injury occurs more than once then, you can use another sub!

  • POSTED BY John-Price on | July 27, 2011, 10:52 GMT

    To state the obvious, cricket is a three skill game and all bowlers are also batsman, albeit of varying abilities. This being the case, is there is no formula that gives a fair like-for-like substitution. To put it another way, players are not simply batsmen or bowlers, they are individual cricketers, all with different mixes of skills. The problems are obvious: for instance, if Anderson gets injured bowling near the end of, say, the third innings of a match, England's 'like-for-like' sub would be Bresnan, and England would then have an enhanced batting line up for the fourth innings - totally unfair, whether contrived or not.

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 10:47 GMT

    Super sub rule was a super failure in ODIs, i dont se how it will work in Tests where there are four innings and no limit on number of overs in any inning.

  • POSTED BY dompocock on | July 27, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    I disagree with most of this article, in the case of Zaheer in the last test he was clearly unfit before the game and the Indian selectors took a chance including him and it blew up in their faces - tough luck that's test cricket. They didn't have to pick him and if they had bothered to prepare properly for the series instead of arrogantly assuming that they could just turn up waltz through the match then they would have known he wasn't fit or would have been able to get him ready for a five day test match. I don't think it is really a surprise that the only Indian players who looked ready for a test match were those who had toured the Carribean whilst the rest 'warmed up' by playing in some exhibition matches back in India that barely last longer than a test match session. I do however agree with the point about fielding substitutes and I think England have been the worst offenders in recent years, I look forward to umpires enforcing the new interpretation of the laws.

  • POSTED BY ArnieRoss on | July 27, 2011, 10:41 GMT

    I think Rob Steen has an excellent point; in any sport, the effect of 'luck' should be minimized. Expecting players to be fit enough to play 5 days is fine - but accidents happen and replacements should be allowed in that situation. However, what if a batsman is injured by a bowler? If the batsman didn't have the skill to handle the delivery, shouldn't the bowling side gain the advantage and perhaps he shouldn't be replaceable?

  • POSTED BY CollisKing on | July 27, 2011, 10:39 GMT

    The West Indies were also in deep doodoo recently with one bowler injured in a 4-man attack. Ravi Rampaul went sick on the first day, unable to bowl in India's first inning's. None of the other batsman have bowled in the first-class cricket, the captain turned to Shiv Chanderpaul who hadn't previously turned his arm over in 5 years (and incidently took a wicket !!). A pathetic sight really, I feel the spectators are short-changed by the imbalance in the contest already in favour of batsman on slow pitches when one team is a bowler short. If teams insist on playing 4 bowlers and one of them gets injured then yes, a replacement from the squad should be allowed. For the sake of the spectacle.

  • POSTED BY Nuxxy on | July 27, 2011, 10:33 GMT

    I still say test cricket needs to have a comprehensive points system. If they want to be world champs, and play in the higher ranks, they need to score the points. Grant more points for aggressive captaincy, proactive batting and sporting declarations. Let people 'buy' a substitute at the cost of points. With Zaheer out for the rest of the match, the potential of points gained would have justified the expense for India. But if they cost is high enough, simply swapping a player for the fun of it becomes too expensive.

  • POSTED BY eoinsmith001 on | July 27, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    I disagree; subsitutes should not be part of the game. The 11 guys (or girls) taking the field on the opening day is The Team, and they should be ready to stick together through the (aptly named) Test of technique, stamina, fitness, skill and crucially, togetherness that stands before them. Presumably they will have prepared responsibly and trained for this demanding experience, but inevitably, some will be fitter than others, some will be in poor form compared to others, some will be a risk for the surface or conditions; just some of the challenges of a Test. The game is correct as it stands in this respect, in my opinion, and that's without mentioning the possibilities for abuse; "I've pulled a muscle!", he cried, after scoring 130, and the sub continued the innings to a double century!.

  • POSTED BY ListenToMe on | July 27, 2011, 10:23 GMT

    Substitute option for injured players could cause faking of injuries by players who are not in form. The best option I think is:

    1. Declare the 11 man squad after the toss. 2. Allow ONE substitution per innings.

    Both these options combined together has the following benefits:

    1. It almost nullifies the toss effect by giving both the teams option to select players according to the pitch conditions. 2. After the first innings, both the teams can substitute one player to make use of the 2nd innings situation depending on whether it is batting or bowling.

    For example, the team batting first can always include an extra batsman instead of a bowler and the team bowling first can include an extra bowler. When the innings changes, the team which batted first could substitute a batsman with a bowler since they would be bowling now. And like that the other team also could substitute their player accordingly.

    This would definitely make both teams to full strength and the game more tight.

  • POSTED BY Nipun on | July 27, 2011, 10:06 GMT

    All these matters come into question whenever India loses,isn't it ? Who would have cared had this taken place in a test between, say, Sri Lanka & New Zealand ? The height of you folks' shameless is unimaginable.

  • POSTED BY KP_84 on | July 27, 2011, 9:57 GMT

    If I recall, player substitution was trialled in ODI cricket in the mid-2000s. Unfortunately, the system was flawed, as asking the two teams to nominate their substitute beforehand gave the team winning the coin toss an advantage. Consequently, the substitution system was dropped.

    If they do bring back substitution, each team should be able to choose any player in their squad as a substitute. This would remove the flaw. I would like to see an improved substitution system implemented in limited overs cricket. However, I think it would be inappropriate to have subs in a Test match. Tests are intended to be a test of fitness as well as ability.

  • POSTED BY mysecretme on | July 27, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    I would put a more radical suggestion. Why not allow teams to have a batting team and a bowling team and a separate fielding team a-la baseball? The numbers can be moved around. Lets say 11 batters and 10/more fielders (including wicket keeper) and finally 7/8 or even 11 bowlers. This would increase the reliance on specialists and increase the standard of performance all over. Test matches will become an even more adventurous affair with teams longer batting lineups requiring more creativity from bowlers and a variety of bowlers requiring higher levels of concentration from the batsmen. Fielders can also have specializations and run scoring will become harder. Fitness will hardly be an issue as workloads will get reduced. On the same note, why not have a substitute umpire who will take over for one of the umpires when he needs a break?

  • POSTED BY Rangarajan_Rajamani_Chennai on | July 27, 2011, 8:44 GMT

    We had this "Super sub" stuff in cricket sometime back (if i am not wrong in 2005-06) and believe it or not - Indians were the ones who didnt know how to use it . . .SAF used it well, so did Aus & SL . . as we guys couldnt get one good allrounder, the super sub became a farce and at last, ICC had to scrap that, with no less pressure from India . . . Though technically, we could have used that concept well . . . . Like replacing slow moving batsmen with more agile bowlers (but we dont have agile bowlers to replace slow batsmen :)) . . .

    All concepts are fine, but to be really honest, India wouldnt accept that as their concentration is in filling their coffers and not developing cricket . . . we played first in 1932 . . it is 2011 and still Indians are not able to simulate one artificial condition and foster fast bowling pitches - at least one per leading state (5 top test centers having one fast pitch) . . .

    India would hate subs . as they are hating DRS

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 8:37 GMT

    One of the unique characteristics of test cricket is the lengthy nature of the game. So every player has to be fully fit and ready for 5 days. If you don't have a decent all-rounder, then it is always a risk to just play 4 bowlers, but its a risk that many teams take to bolster the batting. In the recent case, I think there were concerns over the readiness of Zaheer Khan before the game, but India took the gamble, and unfortunately for them, it backfired. Test cricket doesn't need substitutes.

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    It's a bit of double-edged sword. Like Border had growled to an English batsman who wanted to drink water since he was thirsty " it's test cricket! you get the drinks break as everyone else". Test cricketers should come into a game match-fit, able and willing to endure 450 overs of whatever the game offers in terms of weather, pitch, skills of the opponents etc. That said, what happened in case of Zaheer or say Ravi Rampaul in the recent series, if a player is indisposed to the point that they can't take part at all for the rest of the game.. i'd agree with @Tom Layton - there should be a like-for-like replacement from the squad. This is especially relevant if the wicketkeeper is retired hurt ( much better than having 4 wicketkeepers as we had in that famous ENG vs NZ match isn't it? )

  • POSTED BY tfjones1978 on | July 27, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    Nice idea but the problem with doing this in test cricket is defining whom should be allowed to be the extra batsmen or bowler, unless we just allow two extra players for interchanges during the match and count that as another strategic manenover in test cricket.

    Just like runners were used for strategic replacement, so could replacing players. A common change could be four pace bowlers with spinner in as a substitute (depending on wicket) or an alrounder as backup to be used for 4th innings of the match (replacing 11th batsmen if batting last or a non-bowler if batting last).

    If they allowed them to select their XI after the toss is won they could go a step further and switch their starting XI (eg: Starting with 8 batsmen, 1 wicky & 2 bowlers and switch after batting or five specialist bowlers, 1 wicky & 5 batsmen).

    I think if there are going to be replacements there should be 13 players selected with 4 changes (one at end of each day). Teams could stack at start hoping to win toss

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    Here's a thought though, There's the test championship coming up, and I wouldn't want to see it decided by an injuy. So maybe in that context, if it's clearly obvious that a player can play no part at all (like say, they get wheeled off the ground in a stretcher) then allow their team to sub in an equivilent bowler or batsman. So if the 'keeper goes down, you have to sub in a keeper, if a fast man goes down you have to sub in a fast man, if a spinner goes down you can sub in a spinner. Just a thought.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 27, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    It is interesting that cricket has gone against the modern trend in substitution. A funny thing happenned in the NRL (Rugby League) in Oz about 15yrs ago. They introduced unlimited interchange, which actually led to more injuries & removed the attritional aspect of the game away. After a couple of seasons they wound interchanges back to 12 & then 10. The Aussie Rules has an unlimited interchange until recently they have attempted to limit it this season. So I disagree that once the law is changed it will stay in place. I think maybe we could consider one or two like for like substitutions over a 5-match series. Maybe if we did go down the path of substitutions, (for injury only), the player replaced cannot take any further part in the series??? I'd rather it be looked at in ODIs & T20s first. I remember that the substitution rule, (strategic), was introduced into List A's (can't remember if it was Internationals as well), it ended up not working very well.

  • POSTED BY donda on | July 27, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    No substitution should be allowed in any form of cricket. Kindly don't change the rules of cricket for just sake of habit. Test cricket is the test of temperament, endurance and fitness and if a player get injure , it's his falt that he was not fully fit for the match.

    Don't make new rules to ruin Test cricket.

  • POSTED BY ListenToMe on | July 27, 2011, 5:37 GMT

    To make any form of cricket more interesting, I suggest the following: 1. Declare the team after the toss. This makes both the teams to select a batsman or a bowler according to the pitch conditions which makes the team more even. 2. Allow one substitute. This could be done may be per innings. For example, while the team is batting, it can select a batsman and replace him with a bowler while they bowl. So both the teams will have full strength attack both in bowling and batting so that the contest become more even and tight.

  • POSTED BY ygkd on | July 27, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    I would recommend anyone thinking over this issue to watch an Australian Rules football game sitting near the bench when there's a "rotation" happening every minute. Once upon a time there were 2 on the bench (18 on the ground) and once they substituted that was it. Now there's 3 on the bench swapping all the time and another who can't get swapped back off (and this is an "innovation" because just recently all four could swap about as often as they liked). All-in-all it makes a mockery of the ideal of sport. I certainly wouldn't want cricket to head down that path - maybe a supersub in the short stuff - but Test cricket is supposed to be tough. India's problems at Lords were of their own making. They have not put enough effort into establishing a proper new-ball bowling partnership. When Zaheer goes down so does India's bowling. Harbajhan is not an attack-leader like Kumble was. England was the better prepared team just like they were in the Ashes and it showed on the scoreboard.

  • POSTED BY alexbraae on | July 27, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    I think a better solution than allowing substitutes would be to say that the 12th man may bat and bowl, but only if another player has been ruled out of the rest of the game through an injury, verified by an independent doctor. In the case of Khan, it was on the 1st day, and India should have had the option to replace him for the next 4 days, but only with the 12th man, and only if Khan played absolutely no further role in the game, even as a fielder. That would have been more fair, but in the case of Ghambir, he could still play, so he shouldn't have been allowed to be substituted.

  • POSTED BY akshay1994 on | July 27, 2011, 4:21 GMT

    I actually disagree with this. I feel that a player should be fit enough to last all five days. If you are not fit enough, don't play the game. Even as an Indian fan, I think that Zaheer Khan was not fit enough to play the first test, and it was the Indian team's fault for risking him. But that's just my opinion.

  • POSTED BY Woody111 on | July 27, 2011, 3:44 GMT

    I rarely disagree with Rob Steen but do on this issue. The problem with comparisons for sake of arguing 'well they have so why can't we?' is always the 'comparing apples with oranges' dilemma. Yes the nature of test cricket is endurance over 30 hours of play but that is exactly why it's called test cricket. Any number of unfortunate or fortunate circumstances can occur across this time and one of them is injury. To use the Khan example to highlight your case is frought due to the context; Zaheer is injury prone, hasn't played much at all since April and then was rushed into the team with 20 overs vs Somerset to show for it. I play cricket and captain my side and know full-well how much it hurts when your opening bowler goes down or your fellow opening batsman claims sickness and wants to go in further down. That is sport! It doesn't always rollick along nicely and whether it be dropped catches or the health of your team; there are uncertainties that have to be dealt with.

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  • POSTED BY Woody111 on | July 27, 2011, 3:44 GMT

    I rarely disagree with Rob Steen but do on this issue. The problem with comparisons for sake of arguing 'well they have so why can't we?' is always the 'comparing apples with oranges' dilemma. Yes the nature of test cricket is endurance over 30 hours of play but that is exactly why it's called test cricket. Any number of unfortunate or fortunate circumstances can occur across this time and one of them is injury. To use the Khan example to highlight your case is frought due to the context; Zaheer is injury prone, hasn't played much at all since April and then was rushed into the team with 20 overs vs Somerset to show for it. I play cricket and captain my side and know full-well how much it hurts when your opening bowler goes down or your fellow opening batsman claims sickness and wants to go in further down. That is sport! It doesn't always rollick along nicely and whether it be dropped catches or the health of your team; there are uncertainties that have to be dealt with.

  • POSTED BY akshay1994 on | July 27, 2011, 4:21 GMT

    I actually disagree with this. I feel that a player should be fit enough to last all five days. If you are not fit enough, don't play the game. Even as an Indian fan, I think that Zaheer Khan was not fit enough to play the first test, and it was the Indian team's fault for risking him. But that's just my opinion.

  • POSTED BY alexbraae on | July 27, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    I think a better solution than allowing substitutes would be to say that the 12th man may bat and bowl, but only if another player has been ruled out of the rest of the game through an injury, verified by an independent doctor. In the case of Khan, it was on the 1st day, and India should have had the option to replace him for the next 4 days, but only with the 12th man, and only if Khan played absolutely no further role in the game, even as a fielder. That would have been more fair, but in the case of Ghambir, he could still play, so he shouldn't have been allowed to be substituted.

  • POSTED BY ygkd on | July 27, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    I would recommend anyone thinking over this issue to watch an Australian Rules football game sitting near the bench when there's a "rotation" happening every minute. Once upon a time there were 2 on the bench (18 on the ground) and once they substituted that was it. Now there's 3 on the bench swapping all the time and another who can't get swapped back off (and this is an "innovation" because just recently all four could swap about as often as they liked). All-in-all it makes a mockery of the ideal of sport. I certainly wouldn't want cricket to head down that path - maybe a supersub in the short stuff - but Test cricket is supposed to be tough. India's problems at Lords were of their own making. They have not put enough effort into establishing a proper new-ball bowling partnership. When Zaheer goes down so does India's bowling. Harbajhan is not an attack-leader like Kumble was. England was the better prepared team just like they were in the Ashes and it showed on the scoreboard.

  • POSTED BY ListenToMe on | July 27, 2011, 5:37 GMT

    To make any form of cricket more interesting, I suggest the following: 1. Declare the team after the toss. This makes both the teams to select a batsman or a bowler according to the pitch conditions which makes the team more even. 2. Allow one substitute. This could be done may be per innings. For example, while the team is batting, it can select a batsman and replace him with a bowler while they bowl. So both the teams will have full strength attack both in bowling and batting so that the contest become more even and tight.

  • POSTED BY donda on | July 27, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    No substitution should be allowed in any form of cricket. Kindly don't change the rules of cricket for just sake of habit. Test cricket is the test of temperament, endurance and fitness and if a player get injure , it's his falt that he was not fully fit for the match.

    Don't make new rules to ruin Test cricket.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 27, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    It is interesting that cricket has gone against the modern trend in substitution. A funny thing happenned in the NRL (Rugby League) in Oz about 15yrs ago. They introduced unlimited interchange, which actually led to more injuries & removed the attritional aspect of the game away. After a couple of seasons they wound interchanges back to 12 & then 10. The Aussie Rules has an unlimited interchange until recently they have attempted to limit it this season. So I disagree that once the law is changed it will stay in place. I think maybe we could consider one or two like for like substitutions over a 5-match series. Maybe if we did go down the path of substitutions, (for injury only), the player replaced cannot take any further part in the series??? I'd rather it be looked at in ODIs & T20s first. I remember that the substitution rule, (strategic), was introduced into List A's (can't remember if it was Internationals as well), it ended up not working very well.

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    Here's a thought though, There's the test championship coming up, and I wouldn't want to see it decided by an injuy. So maybe in that context, if it's clearly obvious that a player can play no part at all (like say, they get wheeled off the ground in a stretcher) then allow their team to sub in an equivilent bowler or batsman. So if the 'keeper goes down, you have to sub in a keeper, if a fast man goes down you have to sub in a fast man, if a spinner goes down you can sub in a spinner. Just a thought.

  • POSTED BY tfjones1978 on | July 27, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    Nice idea but the problem with doing this in test cricket is defining whom should be allowed to be the extra batsmen or bowler, unless we just allow two extra players for interchanges during the match and count that as another strategic manenover in test cricket.

    Just like runners were used for strategic replacement, so could replacing players. A common change could be four pace bowlers with spinner in as a substitute (depending on wicket) or an alrounder as backup to be used for 4th innings of the match (replacing 11th batsmen if batting last or a non-bowler if batting last).

    If they allowed them to select their XI after the toss is won they could go a step further and switch their starting XI (eg: Starting with 8 batsmen, 1 wicky & 2 bowlers and switch after batting or five specialist bowlers, 1 wicky & 5 batsmen).

    I think if there are going to be replacements there should be 13 players selected with 4 changes (one at end of each day). Teams could stack at start hoping to win toss

  • POSTED BY on | July 27, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    It's a bit of double-edged sword. Like Border had growled to an English batsman who wanted to drink water since he was thirsty " it's test cricket! you get the drinks break as everyone else". Test cricketers should come into a game match-fit, able and willing to endure 450 overs of whatever the game offers in terms of weather, pitch, skills of the opponents etc. That said, what happened in case of Zaheer or say Ravi Rampaul in the recent series, if a player is indisposed to the point that they can't take part at all for the rest of the game.. i'd agree with @Tom Layton - there should be a like-for-like replacement from the squad. This is especially relevant if the wicketkeeper is retired hurt ( much better than having 4 wicketkeepers as we had in that famous ENG vs NZ match isn't it? )