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Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth

To sub, or not to sub?

Game-changing injuries during Australia's joust with South Africa have aided the case for substitutes in Test cricket. Once a taboo, the concept is gaining momentum

Daniel Brettig

November 28, 2012

Comments: 76 | Text size: A | A

Jacques Kallis left the field due to injury, Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 1st day, November 22, 2012
Had Jacques Kallis been allowed a substitute, he could have recovered in time for the Perth Test without affecting his team in Adelaide © Getty Images

Ponder for a moment an alternative conclusion to the Adelaide Test, one that arrives after both teams are able to call on substitutes to maintain a full complement of 11 fit players. Jacques Kallis and James Pattinson still limp off with injuries incurred while bowling, but instead of remaining on the scoreboard they are replaced - Kallis by Ryan McLaren and Pattinson by Mitchell Starc. The addition of fresh bowlers alters the course of the match.

McLaren's bustling medium-fast follows up from Kallis' initial breakthroughs, and also reduces the role played by a profligate Imran Tahir, to restrict Australia to a slimmer first innings - Michael Clarke drags McLaren onto the stumps having made a mere 147. Thus chasing a reduced target, South Africa entertain as many thoughts of winning as survival until Starc delivers a swerving spell with the second new ball midway through the final day, dismissing McLaren among three victims in as many overs.

Starc's left-arm footmarks also create more purchase for Nathan Lyon, who finds sharp spin and variable bounce out of the rough to ensure South Africa are bowled out with an hour and a little more than 100 runs to spare. Kallis, meanwhile, is passed fit for the Perth Test, and Pattinson's recovery period is revised to give him a chance of playing against Sri Lanka at the MCG on Boxing Day.

Such a scenario will be outlandish to some and anathema to others, but with every glimpse of a batsman grimacing in pain at the crease and every camera shot of a bowler limping from the field, the radical concept of allowing substitutes in Test cricket slips closer to the realm of the possible. Whether that is also the realm of the necessary still depends on one's point of view. Medical practitioners and physios around the Australian game are at the vanguard of global lobbyists for the concept, while players and coaches are softening in their resistance - bowlers moreso than batsmen.

Older cricketers, and captains, are reluctant to tamper with the venerable and venerated concept of 11 versus 11, irrespective of injuries, conditions or the changing tactical fashions of other sports. Paul Marsh, the Australian Cricketers Association chief executive, spoke for many of his members when he stated that any such change would "tear at the fabric of the game". Following the Adelaide Test, South Africa's captain Graeme Smith spoke warmly from this perspective about the respect engendered among combatants for playing the last game that leaves nowhere to hide for five days.

"I think that's the whole challenge of Test cricket really," Smith said. "When you watch Peter Siddle bowl at the end of his tether in the last 12-18 balls of the day to someone who's batted all day, that's what Test cricket is all about. I don't think there's a sport out there that really tests you for as long mentally, emotionally and skill-wise other than Test cricket, and I think maybe rules like that might soften the blow a bit. That's why people who look back over time can be proud of what they've achieved, that they've been able to handle what this game is all about."

Smith's views are emblematic of the opposition to any concept of substitutes. Nonetheless, the views of medical men are creeping towards wider acceptance, albeit slowly. The concept of a cricketer being subbed out of a first-class match is already in place under exceptional circumstances in Australia, as Ricky Ponting and numerous New South Wales-based team-mates for Australia were replaced in Sheffield Shield matches to avoid injury and a scheduling clash ahead of the first Test in Brisbane. Ponting's hamstring was deemed too tight for him to complete a match for Tasmania against South Australia in Hobart, while Michael Clarke and Mitchell Starc played only three days of four at Allan Border Field so they could join the rest of the squad at the Gabba.

This year, Cricket Australia's playing conditions committee - of which Marsh is a member - agreed in principle to the use of a single substitute for either injury or tactical reasons in Shield fixtures. It was viewed as a radical step at CA, and ultimately too radical at the ICC's headquarters in Dubai, from which word filtered back to Jolimont that enforcing such a law would risk the first-class status of the Shield. That edict killed the concept for the 2012-13 summer, but a serious discussion on it is evidence of progress in the mind of the Cricket New South Wales team doctor and sometime Australian team medical officer John Orchard, among the most vocal advocates of the change.

"I think everyone who's in the preparation and injury side of looking after cricketers is unanimously in favour of it, and we're getting much better penetration into the cricket part of the structure - there are now a significant number of coaches and even players who are in favour," Orchard told ESPNcricinfo. "It wouldn't have even been on the agenda five years ago and now there are people lobbying on the cricket side, not just the injury side."

'The ask of the modern player, which is to come out like a sprinter in T20 and bowl four overs of smoke, two days' rest then another four overs, and then adjust from that to the marathon efforts of bowling 40 overs in Test cricket with maybe only week or 10 days' break in between, bodies all over the world are having a problem with that.' Sports physician John Orchard
The central plank of Orchard's argument for substitutes in Test matches is that it must be seen as a natural counterbalance to the wildly contrasting demands now placed on international cricketers via the poles of Test matches and Twenty20 fixtures. In terms of training, preparation, and execution they are as divergent as a marathon and a sprint, creating a chasm between formats down which increasing numbers of players are falling with injuries.

"In the days when you only had one major form of the day, the matches were spaced out nicely and you could treat Test cricket as a marathon and train like a marathon runner, bowl lots of long spells in the nets and lots of long spells in Test cricket," Orchard said. "It was a sport which didn't have many injuries. But the ask of the modern player, which is to come out like a sprinter in T20 and bowl four overs of smoke, two days' rest then another four overs, and then adjust from that to the marathon efforts of bowling 40 overs in Test cricket with maybe only week or 10 days' break in between, bodies all over the world are having a problem with that.

"It's not that one country's got poor injury management and poor physios and poor doctors, it's just that the human body's not designed to do that. We've suddenly entered a high-injury era for cricket, where every country has got players playing T20 and Test cricket, and in no country are the bowlers standing up and coping well with it. You can try your preparation in all sorts of ways, but that adjustment is becoming very different to make."

There are numerous variations on what form the substitutes system might take. The concept of replacing a player only when injured appears flawed and open to exploitation, as rugby has discovered with its blood rule. A single substitute available across the course of the match, essentially a 12th man freed up to play, is the most measured option, already debated by CA and advocated by the likes of the Victorian coach Greg Shipperd. Orchard's suggestion is the most far-fetched, allowing bowlers to be subbed out once they have reached a certain number of overs, in the manner of baseball pitchers.

"If cricket joined other sports and embraced substitutions you could make cricket a little bit closer to T20 cricket," Orchard said. "If you had players who could bowl 15 overs in an innings in Test cricket and then get subbed out and bring in a fresh bowler, it would be a radical change but it would be in response to another radical change, which is T20 cricket. When T20 was first suggested and played it was considered a bit of a joke, hit and giggle, now it is treated very seriously and it is here to stay.

"You certainly are getting some old-school people in cricket saying we should limit T20 because it is ruining Test cricket, and in one sense they're correct but in another they're out of date. No one is going to limit T20 cricket when it is getting bigger crowds and it's bringing in more money than the traditional forms of the game. You're never going to stop players playing in tournaments that earn more money than their Test cricket.

"Bringing subs in is a radical solution, but it is one that has to be debated more and more. It is really a matter of how long we're prepared to sit back and watch injuries have a greater and greater impact on cricket matches, before people get sick of outcomes of Test matches being decided by who happens to have the least injuries rather than who has the better side."

The sight of the injured combatant fighting through pain and physical restriction to do his best for his team is among sport's most compelling, but it is a drama that invariably leads to a long delay until that player may return to action for the sequel. Kallis' efforts with the bat in Adelaide have more than likely ruined his chances of playing in Perth, while Pattinson's team-oriented inclination to try to keep bowling after he first felt pain, ignoring it until he could barely breathe, is likely to have lengthened his rehabilitation time by a significant amount.

"If changes are made to allow subs, people will miss the innings of your Jacques Kallis coming on and playing with a hammy and in obvious pain," Orchard said. "That's great to watch in terms of human courage, and some of the most famous innings over the years have been batsmen under duress, and that is something you would miss if you brought in subs.

"But on the other hand we have Pat Cummins have his debut [in Johannesburg last year], get injured and play through with the injury, help win the Test match in a great display of courage, but we're now behind the ledger in terms of how much cricket he's missed with injury since then, opposed to how great it was to watch him in that Test. We're missing him more going forward for the fact he played through in that Test."

Ultimately, the possibility of substitutes in Test matches will rise or fall based on the views of the players themselves. They are the most vocal advocates for Test cricket itself, and if they begin to lose interest in its physical risks and psychological demands then change may not be long in coming. Australia's captain Michael Clarke offered a carefully divergent view from Smith, stating that international cricket had become far more of a squad game. Even though he loves the breadth of the challenge posed by a Test match, Clarke is a little less wedded to the concept of 11 v 11.

"To me it's such a hard game, it's Test cricket, it's the pinnacle, the hardest game in the world, the greatest game in the world," Clarke said. "There's going to be injuries, especially when you have to work as hard as both teams have had to work over the first two Test matches of this series, but you've got to find a way.

"We look forward to a third Test with maybe some new faces on both sides. International cricket is not just about 11 players, it's about a squad. That's why Australia's been so successful for a long period, because of the strength of first-class cricket in Australia, players manage to come into the team and have success. [11 versus 11] is how it is, so I accept it."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by crashed on (December 1, 2012, 12:14 GMT)

Simply put Australia miss a Siddle in the middle of the third test as they left siddle out bringing him back in right now would not be right as they made the choices before the test started. Do not try to fix something that is not broken (the rules as is right now - a runner were good at its time but for reasons is now taken out of the game) We live with our decisions - be it in joy or misery after the test had been concluded. A fully represented Ausie team could not get 18 test wickets in the first test and not 20 (with an injured kallis included) in the second test. Truly both teams were tested on form. A great series a great test and game on in the third match. I hope no injuries come from this and i hope the best team win

Posted by   on (December 1, 2012, 7:03 GMT)

The current system works. If they want to substitute do it in 20's or 50's. Test cricket has maintained a system where players of different eras can be compared. This should be protected at all cost.

Posted by Kernas on (December 1, 2012, 1:37 GMT)

Cricket is cricket. It is NOT football, of any variety. It's a team sport, a non-contact sport, a sport played over 5 days, a sport with degrees of specialisation etc etc etc. Change for change sake is stupid. The chnages in T20 and 50 (or 40) over cricket are confusing and almost irrelevant to those watching the game. AFL is equally ridiculous with the dumb ideas used in the preseason games. The administrators should administer and stop trying to outdo each each with dumbb idea.

Posted by NP_NY on (November 30, 2012, 10:30 GMT)

Makes complete sense to have full substitution (not just fielding). I don't see any reason why cricket should be different from other sports in this regard. But then the problem with the cricket administrators has always been resistance to change.

Posted by challagalla on (November 30, 2012, 0:55 GMT)

I think we should leave it as it is and keep it simple. Matbe the ICC can experiment with substitute changes in all domestic tournaments in all cricket playing nations,gauge the response and than only implement it in tests.

Posted by Treeleaper on (November 29, 2012, 21:37 GMT)

I like the idea of 11 fit men playing 11 fit men. It happens in other sports with little down side. Never forget that we're dealing with spectator sports . Punters don't want to be shortchanged when a team's bowling or batting options are reduced. Consider the situation where a running batsman collides with a bowler and one of them is injured and has to retire.

Posted by Sarfin on (November 29, 2012, 14:35 GMT)

I like this idea. But you need to make sure that teams don't abuse the option. Suppose an unfit batsman is included in the XI and later replaced with a bowler. So, it must be ensured that no unfit players can be included in the first eleven. Substitution rule can be made a little bit flexible with provision of naming two substitute player (one bowler and one batsman ) so that a bowler can be replaced with a bowler and a batsman can be replaced with a batsman. because if your batsman gets hurt and your substitute is a bowler, the balance of the game will be hampered.

Posted by brittop on (November 29, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

Not sure that bringing in an independant medical expert to avoid a player feigning an injury could work. If the player screams with agony when the feigned injury is touched, is the medical expert going to send him back on the field even if he can't see what's wrong?

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 14:16 GMT)

It would meant there is no risk for teams picking injured players. Someone like Zaheer Khan is a permanent injury risk, whether a recurring one or a new one in the match; and so if you could replace if injured there would be no risk to picking him. England may have been more tempted to pick a half fit Steve Finn, knowing that you could then bring a replacement.

In my opinion injury only substitutes do not work, you either make them tactical or you don't do them. I would prefer the latter.

Posted by lawton on (November 29, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

Boston_Legal's comments defies logic.He comparing chalk with cheese. We are talking about team sports and not individual events.For all those who want to live in the past-why not bring back timeless Tests,Home Umpires,uncovered pitches,no minimum number of overs,back foot no ball law, no helmets,etc,etc.

Posted by lawton on (November 29, 2012, 12:14 GMT)

Cricket isthe only team game which does not allow substitution.Come on lets move with the times.Its 2012 and not 1812.Not allowing substitue players is archaic.Like in soccer two substitute players should be allowed. This would elliminate any unfair advantage one team gains over the other as we saw in the first test when SA played with only 10 men.

Posted by dmat on (November 29, 2012, 11:27 GMT)

After Duminy's injury, I mentioned to my son that I thought this would be a good idea but now I think we would be messing up the game we all love. Reading all these comments, it is clear to me that the passion for test cricket as it is, is alive and well throughout the world and to tinker with it could destroy the fabric of the game - then what? We would have no way of comparing tomorrow's heroes with The Don, Sachin or Sobers. Perhaps they had a similar debate when they started covering pitches (maybe in a different forum). Change T20's and ODI's to say 13 players per team with only 11 to bat but let's leave test cricket as is - no subs, no runners.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 11:06 GMT)

Some mentioned for 150 years, so don't change it, but they did change it by cancelling the RUNNER. Why???, Nobody really wants to win 11 vs 10 so a full member sub should be allowed. However once subbed player off stays off. Never mind injuries fake or otherwise just play 12 bat 11. Ozz are now short of their best two fast bowlers and Saffas are short of a fully fit Kallis. Perhaps cricket should insist 7 full days between test matches, then India v England would not clash with Ozz v Saf. who do you watch??? Ozz have home availabilty for all players but Saf must uproot a player bring him half way round world. If Saf brought 18 players then 7 would "normally" just sit around, also not good for cricket.

Posted by sharidas on (November 29, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

However sensible the arguments are, especially for present day cricket, to forego the excitement of watching an injured batsmen/bowler come into the field at number eleven and face out a few overs and draw or win the game would go missing forever. But once the substitute rule is brought into the game, the past will be forgotten and the new law accepted by all within a short period of time. The only clause should be that only 100 percent fit players should be selected and named to the first eleven before the game.

Posted by Boston_Legal on (November 29, 2012, 9:08 GMT)

Wow, great idea... its like Usain Bolt decides to run a 10K, breaks down after first 700m, and then Mo Farah comes in as a replacement, and completes the race. World record to Mr Bolt!

Posted by RightArmEverything on (November 29, 2012, 6:48 GMT)

I suspect this Orchard fella and John Buchanan would get along great, they both have great ideas to overcomplicate a game that is best when kept simple.

Posted by Andross on (November 29, 2012, 6:16 GMT)

It seems to me that if the schedule is too tight between T20's and Tests as the Doctor is saying, then players have to chose between which form they want to compete in. I'm not a follower of Rugby, but I gather that there are 2 or 3 forms of the game, and there are very few or no players that do both. It's something that people have to chose. I remember for a while during the late 90s or early 2000s, there were only about three players that where in both the AUS test team and ODI sides, perhaps thats the way we should go again. If we must have a substitute system, I think it must be some sort of system where the opposing Captain gets a say, and only 1 sub nominated before the game can be used, and only in the case of injury. The idea of a 'supersub' in test cricket makes me want to throw up. Players have to choose is my vote.

Posted by zenboomerang on (November 29, 2012, 5:29 GMT)

Usings subs is way too open to abuse, as even the simple "runner" sub rule was abused by a number of teams... Wanting subs is obviously a coaching, selector, captain, trainer (CA management) issue that they haven't thought about properly... Bowlers aren't switching from short to long form cricket properly - simple, don't allow any Test / Shield likely players play 20/20 either late pre-season or early in the cricket season... Playing T20WC & CL at the beginning of the domestic / Test season is plain dumb - they should be played after the IPL season when most international players are already in that mode of preparation... I've been against CA's desire to promote young bowlers into 20/20 & OD cricket for experience when all it does is weaken their prepartion for 4/5 day cricket - would much rather see them playing Shield if they have any likelihood of Test promotion...

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 5:04 GMT)

I think if the substitute was the twelth man, ie if you lost a bowler and the 12th man was a batsmen, too bad :-) its ok, its still close to 11 v 11. Teams have used the 12th man for a long time to actually rest players from fielding. Also to avoid the whole "cheating" aspect of a player feigning injury, just allow any 11 to bat and any 11 to bowl/field. It may add to the quality of the games, with an extra quality batsman or bowler per side.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 4:52 GMT)

Couldnt disagree more with Orchids suggestion..thats why you need to have a big squad of players and be able to manage different forms of the game..

Now more than ever, management in cricket is a big part of the game. England have a good system imo. I expect all nations to have that approach if there are to be successful in all forms of the game. Substitutes is ridiculous. Leave the rules for rugby and football to those games. Test Cricket IS the greatest test of sporting ability

Posted by Nilesh_T on (November 29, 2012, 3:45 GMT)

@Wacco ..Perfectly said ,haha. Indian players have no replacements for 2 reasons,either they are in team for life resting on past reputations or the substitute bench reserves are useless.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 3:32 GMT)

Either leave it as is (ie no runner, no substitute except for fielding) or go back to the previous version where a runner was allowed. BUT, if a batsman uses a runner, he has to be assessed by an independent medico and ruled out. Beingv fat and unfit, or cramping up is not a legitimate injury and in those cases a runner should not be allowed. Although I must admit as an Aussie that the idea of replacing Kallis with another player might have been alright.....

Posted by PratUSA on (November 29, 2012, 3:10 GMT)

Bad idea. Clarke is right in saying that it's about squad and that's why you bring in different players for different matches whether based on conditions or due to injury or illness. And this sub idea has not even been tested yet at a lower level. Until someone does that, the arguments for it will only be a theory. And shield cricket may not be the first place to try it. Try it in tour games that loose their first class status because of 12 or 13 a side fixtures. Only after results of trials are done a debate can take place. Thankfully pink and orange balls trials didn't happen at test match level, unlike a super sub experiment that was straightaway introduced at ODI level. My bet is on concept failing big time in either making games more interesting or drawing more audience.

Posted by Timmuh on (November 29, 2012, 2:16 GMT)

I can't really see it working. Perhaps in Brisbane with Duminy, who had played no part in a match that was still in its first innings, it could have worked. Imagine a first change bowler going down late in the third innings of a match, and being replaced by a batsman with the team batting last going on to win by one or two wickets.

Cricket isn't like most other sports where both teams are performing the same activity at the same time, eg basketball both teams are trying to get the ball into a net.

I would bring back the runner, with the fielding team able to select the runner so that it would only be used for genuine injuries and not for every unfit player in the sport.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 1:34 GMT)

No. Graeme Smith put it beautifully.

Posted by satish619chandar on (November 29, 2012, 1:14 GMT)

Keep a check on the the substitute concept . If batsmen are not going to be allowed to use runners, then allow only one substitute per game - the 12th man. if one more player needs rest in middle of the game, let them field with 10 for the time being. You don't have to be good to unfit players. Making it 12 vs 12 is out of the traditional way the game is played. I don't support 12 vs 12 but ONLY the 12th man being the substitute.

Posted by RightArmEverything on (November 29, 2012, 0:54 GMT)

Allowing substitutions would take too many great things out of the game. If it's true that cricketing schedules are the reason for bowlers' injuries, then surely the answer is to fix the schedule rather than tinker with the rules of the game. I don't want to see bowlers subbed out once they've bowled a certain number of overs. I want to see bowlers that are capable of bowling a lot of overs, in different conditions, striving for wickets even when they're absolutely buggered. That's what's great about the game. I love seeing the way a captain will use his part-timer bowlers and the surprise wickets they can get. I don't want to see teams with batsmen down to number 8 as someone suggested, I want to see tailenders putting up a fight or taking it to the bowlers. If someone gets injured it's just a test of a team's depth and heart to find a way to win in spite of it.

Posted by Chark_attack on (November 29, 2012, 0:54 GMT)

WORST IDEA EVER it will destroy test cricket completly

Posted by Spidermanx on (November 29, 2012, 0:50 GMT)

If I want to watch substitutions I would watch football, rugby or basketball. One of the enduring things about this test match was Kallis making 50's despite his injury and Peter Siddle fighting fatigue given Aus was less a bowler to try to win the game.

A result is not everything and that's the beauty of this game.

Finally, its a bit presumptuous that McLaren would have been able to do what Kallis was doing with the ball given even Steyn and Morkel weren't able to... just saying!

No substitutes... leave such tinkering to the shorter formats.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2012, 0:32 GMT)

Subs in cricket is an awful idea. Frankly, it seems so weird to me that one day we're doing away with runners in cricket because there are too many players misusing the system and the next, we're lobbying for substitutes, which is way, way worse than runners. Even if the player was actually injured. Think about it. What if Morne Morkel is injured on the fourth day of the Adelaide Test and they want to play Ryan McLaren in his place? Would that be fair? Maybe we can have a substitute rule for players who get injured before taking part in the game at all, but we have to remember that there have been no more than three incidents of a player not being able to take part in a game at all due to injury in almost 150 years of Test cricket.

Posted by Meety on (November 29, 2012, 0:20 GMT)

I don't like the idea of substitutes in a Test. As others have said, it is open to abuse. I think playing with an injury adds to the theatre of sport - who could forget Smith coming out to face MJ at the SCG. I think Gordon Grenidge once hit a double ton whilst injured (albeit with a runner?). Rick McCosker wrapped like a mummy. Great stuff. I do however, think there could be scope to replace a JP Duminy in that type of scenario - as long as it was like for like. However, like for like is a bit of a grey area. Take Katich & Warner, both have similar batting averages, they both bat left handed, but IMO - they are not completely like for like as Katich is the superior bowler - by a distance. Semantics but could be manipulated. Say Smith wanted to replace Duminy with Peterson on the grounds he is a middle order batsmen who bowls? In the end, cricket has been played for 150 yrs without replacements - I think it can last another 150 more without it!

Posted by HatsforBats on (November 29, 2012, 0:12 GMT)

If a player was injured during the course of the match (excluding the aggravation of an existing injury) and an independent medical assessment is presented, I am not against the match referee deciding whether the 12th man is allowed to bat/bowl. But the easiest solution is to reduce player workload commitments and increase remuneration for test players. Simple.

Posted by spesh on (November 28, 2012, 23:19 GMT)

Team composition should be the debate. Not substitutes. Just because tradition suggests 6 batsmen, 1 wicketkeeper and 4 bowlers are the optimal balance in a test cricket side does not mean that selectors should not change this idiom to suit both how fit their team is and the conditions they are likely to face. Sacrificing a few runs for the increased probability of having fit enough bowlers to get 20 wickets should be the first decision a selection panel mull over.

Batsmen who can bowl will become increasingly valuable in the modern age of injured bowlers, and so they should. Wicketkeepers will be expected to provide as many runs as batsmen, perhaps at the sake of some wicket keeping talent, and so they should.

Let's adapt our thinking rather than the rules. Changing test cricket so dramatically (and it would be a dramatic change) would render the last 120 years of history incomparable, and for me that's what makes the game great, comparison through the ages.

Posted by Talubar on (November 28, 2012, 23:06 GMT)

I've haven't heard so much drivel on an issue in cricket, with the exception of the front foot no-ball, as I've heard on this issue. Why not go the whole hog and have separate batting and fielding teams picked from a 36 man roster with unlimited subs? A mercy rule, (which surely would have been enforced at the end of day one in Adelaide) ? Pinch hitters? Relief bowlers? This isn't baseball, this is Test cricket, the ultimate test of physical and mental strength and endurance as evidenced by the fifth day heroics of du Plessis and Siddle. How a team responds to an unexpected absence is part of the character and texture of cricket. Take it away and you'll still have a game, but you can't call it cricket.

Posted by Ravendark on (November 28, 2012, 22:51 GMT)

@ all the comments saying Test Cricket is a battle of 11 v 11. How is that the case in either of the AUS V SA tests both teams have lost players? In Brisbane, SA lost Duminy before he did anything in the match. Australian only needed 18 wickets to win the match. That is not 11 v 11. In Adelaide, both teams lost a player, while 10 v 10 is at least equal, it is not 11 v 11. You seem to miss the point that when a team loses a player through an injury, it becomes 11 v 10. A substitute would return it to your precious 11 v 11.

I'm all for it. An independent doctor could be used to determined the nature of the injury and whether it was sustained legitimately during the game. I also think one batting and one bowling substitute should be named alongside the starting 12 to ensure the opposition know who might be coming in.

Posted by disco_bob on (November 28, 2012, 22:47 GMT)

The concept of substitutes in Test cricket, is ludicrous. It would negate a large part of the game, because the substitute would be picked with, (in a manner of speaking) inside knowledge. Not to mention of course we would have the cricket equivalent of 'diving', plus teams could start with a player who was not fully fit in the knowledge that a breakdown could be covered. This article must be a joke.

Posted by Chris_P on (November 28, 2012, 22:31 GMT)

CA toyed with the idea for the shield competition as a way of evening out the sides. The ICC said it would consider the validity of the first class status. Yet, at the start of every English season, there are first class designated games against Universities, who, to be blunt, wouldn't be competitive in grade cricket. Interesting. These are also the same mob, btw, who haven't designated WSC matches as first class, but then again, they were only played by the best cricketers on the globe at the time, yet they deemed the rebel tours to South Africa as first class? Again, ...interesting. Cricinfo, please publish.

Posted by Lizzyp on (November 28, 2012, 22:20 GMT)

OK Clarkey - if you have such a great squad and can replace an injured player next test, you don't need subs!!!

Posted by BlightyTragic on (November 28, 2012, 22:03 GMT)

I'm not saying we now choose a team of 15 players with the thought that they all could get a go in the test, but lets be realistic. The scrapping of runners - stupid. That would make a significant difference to this debate. Kallis, and even Dumminy if he felt up to it, should have been allowed a runner. Rememebr last time South Africa Toured and Smith came out at No. 11 with a broken hand? No he didn't need a runner. BUT - and heres the kicker, a substitute would have to be an agreement achieved by the Match Officials and an Independent doctor. Not the Captains and some bloke with a Bronze medallion in lifesaving drinking at the Doug Walters Stand Bar assessing the situation. And it has to be that the player being replaced can no longer take part in 3 out of 3 diciplines of the game. If he can't bowl or field, but can bat, then he stays. If he breaks dislocates his shoulder tackling a pitch intuder, then he gets replaced after being laughed at. The runner should be back though.

Posted by Nerk on (November 28, 2012, 21:45 GMT)

Go back to the old rules. Batsmen are allowed a runner if they are injured. Of course, it has to be an injury and not just cramp, to be determined by the match referee. People whine that bowlers should be allowed the same rights, if they get injured they get a sub or something, but speaking as a bowler it is different. A bowler does get to go off the field, and a sub fielder comes on. Whilst the sub fielder is not a bowler, you still have nine other guys on the field who can roll the arm over. But with batting, everyone has to bat, and to ask players to bat without a runner when they have a hamstring injury is just cruel.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (November 28, 2012, 21:44 GMT)

In the first test, if substitutes were allowed, South Africa probably would have won the test match outright, as they would have had an extra bowling option, and an extra batsman. In the second test, South Africa didn't lose all that much through Kallis's injury, as he was still able to bat, albeit lower down the order, and he rarely bowls more than a half dozen or so overs anyway - but Australia lost significantly by having their main bowler James Pattinson unable to bowl beyond 9.1 overs for the entire match, and, as suggested, Australia almost certainly would have won the second test (which they nearly won even without him). Had substitutes been allowed, we would probably be looking at a 1-1 scoreline, instead of a 0-0 scoreline. We would still be looking at the 3rd test for a tiebreaker; but the main difference that we would have had results, and it would have been down to which team is better, not which team gets injured.

Posted by GoochiesTash333 on (November 28, 2012, 21:43 GMT)

Shocking article. Don't tamper with the integrity and sheer class of Test Cricket please

Posted by 200ondebut on (November 28, 2012, 21:18 GMT)

A classic case of a writer talking up his own ideas. There is no growing momentum - well not outside his confused mind.

Posted by brittop on (November 28, 2012, 20:41 GMT)

The problem with tactical substitutions is it removes one part of the game i.e. the 6-1-4 or 5-1-5 dilemma. It would also reduce the need for all rounders. Also there comes a point in the game, i.e. the 4th innings, when you no longer need one type of player (batsman if you're bowling or vice versa), which actually means there's no tactical decision to make. If both sides pick an extra bowler as the substitute, then the team that is actually bowling in the final innings probably gains an advantage over the other.

Posted by princeofnyc on (November 28, 2012, 20:22 GMT)

Don't even think about this! There is no way to implement a substitue rule without adding a lot of controversy to every match.

Posted by Buggsy on (November 28, 2012, 20:10 GMT)

No way on Earth should replacements be allowed. Ever. Kallis came into this series half injured, and South Africa took a gamble by playing him. By introducing replacements for injured players this would allow teams to hedge their bets. I can't imagine the amount of abuse this would incur.

Posted by anton1234 on (November 28, 2012, 19:55 GMT)

This system will be open to abuse. If a team makes a wrong selection on the final 11, they will get players to feign injury to replace with players who are horses for courses, unless you adopt the substitutes wholeheartedly whereby a team gets to select 13 players in the squad and if and when they like during the match, will be able to bring on a substitute. Once the subtitute is on, the substituted player no longer takes part in the rest of the match. It doesn;t have to be injury, it could be a technical substitution.

But this could, of course, mess up the whole averages and, since stats play such a big role in cricket, I am not if you could measure a fast bowler's worth if he keeps coming on fresh on the 4th day and takes some cheap wickets during the rest of the match when other bowlers who have played the matches will be more tired.

Substitutions should definitely be adopted in ODIs and T20s because stats do not play as a big a role as tehy do in test cricket.

Posted by bumsonseats on (November 28, 2012, 19:46 GMT)

but using the argument of some others.on england finding they have made a mistake they then can pull in monty for example. its so cockeyed and not thought out by some. the team winning the toss and batting can benefit by playing seamers on their tun to bowl, then a spinner in the 4th innings. as to subs use i dont have a problem for either illness or injury but purely as a fielder.

Posted by Wexfordwonder on (November 28, 2012, 19:05 GMT)

I am not a traditionalist. I have been behind the DRS and use of technology all the way. However, substitutions in test cricket are too fraught with possibilities of misuse for me. The only possible scenario for me would have been in the case of JP Duminy, where he had taken no part in play. Only then should you be allowed to select one of two pre named substitutes. You can then cover for either a batsman or bowler being injured and pick your substitute accordingly. One they have played, it is tough luck I am afraid. I support SA and as dismayed as I was at the injuries, I can see why no subs were allowed.

Posted by wgtnpom on (November 28, 2012, 19:03 GMT)

There are all sorts of reasons why this is an awful idea: cricket is 11 v 11, the length of a Test match makes it easier for a substitution to alter the balance of a match to an unreasonable degree, and most pertinent of all (in my view) only three protagonists are taking a major role in the game at any given moment - the two batsmen and the bowler. Yes there are ten others in the field but the present substitute system caters for that, not to mention runners for a batsman who becomes injured during the match. And the other nine batsman aren't even on the field so why do you need a substitute? Tactical substitutions are a bad idea - I hope there is no real appetite for this as it would ruin the game. Cricket is not a game of direct confrontation like rugby, football, hockey etc.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 17:57 GMT)

I think a substitute is fine but: 1) he can only play in the 2nd innings and 2) he cannot bat (so that there is a penalty for using a sub)

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 17:27 GMT)

We already tried the "super sub". Where is that concept now? On the scrapheap is where, because it was a dreadful and meddlesome idea. Leave the game as it is. No-one is forced to continue in a game if they get injured, and countless sides have completed games, both successfully and unsuccessfully, with 10 men. More fool the injured player who carries on, I say. There's no disgrace in pulling out of the game.

Posted by Yayathy on (November 28, 2012, 17:08 GMT)

There is no need for Substitutes. Its the responsibility of the player to stay fit. If your Hamstring is not strong enough to deliver, then work on your fitness. If there is an injury due to diving or getting hit by a ball, then it can be accounted for substitution. Also players should not go out of the field to take a breather. The batsmen doesnt do that. The players should decide which game to play and which one to rest.

Posted by bumsonseats on (November 28, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

i hope the BCCI are not in favour of it otherwise it will get the go ahead.

Posted by bumsonseats on (November 28, 2012, 17:01 GMT)

this is not an 90 min knockabout played out on a football field or a 80min rugby league game. this is the creme dela creme of sport the sport of kings. test cricket the finest of sports a team game, were sportsman test their nerve and skill and injuries occur. why not change the games start were a captain can demand the type of wicket he wants, and in that case the away team alway gets 1st use of that wicket so can inc 3 spinners. the permutations can be endless. the guys in australia in the 2nd test all played their guts out, and towards the end one brought in a ringer which just tipped the balance. leave the game alone warts and all.

Posted by Wacco on (November 28, 2012, 16:39 GMT)

bad news for India as Indian players have no replacements.

Posted by Slogger_John on (November 28, 2012, 16:29 GMT)

We don't want tactical substitutes in cricket. England picked the wrong team in Ahmedabad and were rightly punished for it.

Allowing injury substitutes is open to all sorts of abuse - final day turner and all of a sudden one of the seamers has a 'twinge' and on strolls the fresh fingered spinner who didn't have to bowl 40 overs in the first innings and wins the game. Totally ridiculous. What I would allow is runners - but the batsmen with a runner is banned for the next test. Even if it is 6 months away. That way, you only use a runner if you really need one. Same rule for sub fielders as well.

Posted by azzaman333 on (November 28, 2012, 15:57 GMT)

If an independent medical professional deems a player to be injured, the team should be permitted to replace him with the 12th man. I don't want to see tactical substitutions or gaming of the system to allow tactical substitutions, but more importantly we shouldn't be putting players at risk of making their injuries worse just because it's more "beautiful" or it "softens" test cricket or some other ludicrous non-argument. Even if substitutions were restricted to only be possible during either teams first innings, that'd be better than nothing. We don't want to destroy a young players career by forcing him to play on for the sake of the team, only for him to pick up something severely worse as a result.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 15:32 GMT)

Absolutely no substitutes. People talk about subs being fine for a genuine injury: what exactly is a genuine injury? Who would enforce such a thing? The whole point of Test cricket is that it is a competition for five days between two teams of 11. Subs in rugby and football work because it is such a small timeframe involved. Bringing substitutes into Test cricket would be entirely wrong.

Posted by JimDavis on (November 28, 2012, 15:21 GMT)

If there were subs then SA would have lost as even a fit sub could not have done what Jacques did with the bat in both innings.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 15:20 GMT)

There was a county game in England this past season where a test player who didn't make the test side was 'parachuted' into a county game on the second day (I think). It certainly upset supporters of the other team, and I thought was not at all in the spirit of cricket. He was a kind of substitute, as someone must have then been removed from the team. This kind of substitute should not be allowed, and neither should the types envisaged in this article, in my view. Cricket will then become like soccer/rugby/etc where you can change the team at any time. Let's keep cricket like it is - 11 on 11.

Posted by ariful_hstu07 on (November 28, 2012, 15:19 GMT)

just a rubbish idea. In how many matches player ruled out by injury in 1st or 2nd day? Don't compare cricket with football. Everything has it's own beauty.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 15:12 GMT)

Apart from being a softening of Test cricket, which is still the ultimate 'Test' of cricketing skill and stamina, this idea also allows for the possibility of tactical injuries. Plausible scenario: pack your team with fast bowlers for the first innings, allow one or two of them to strain a pancreas mid-way through the match and then bring on your substitute leg-spinner and offie to bowl on a wearing 4th or 5th day pitch. Something similar could be imagined with batting line-ups, enabling creative (or unsporting) teams to field and bowl with a bowler-heavy XI and then bat with nine or ten specialist batsmen. All-in-all, this is a depressingly stupid idea, which I hope never progresses beyond mere discussion.

Posted by mihir_nam on (November 28, 2012, 15:05 GMT)

No Substitute.. Infact even if Substitute is fielding substitute for certain amount of over. Catch taken by him should be invalid and player should field outside 15yard circle. Players should be fit rather than running for every T20 tournament around the world and injured for Test Matches

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 15:03 GMT)

do not need this rule,,,, do not care about T20 cricket,,,, rather stop players from playing too much T-20 cricket,,,, because TEST is best,,,, :) ODI's are good too,,,

Posted by Pressan on (November 28, 2012, 14:47 GMT)

I think Subs Should only be available in the first day of the test. If there is a real injury that a 3rd party doctor can confirm he can not continue then 1 sub should be allowed. If feel when a team loses a player in the first day, its a huge disadvantage. You see 10 players having to put extra shifts and that tests nothing. Look at duminy in the first test, SA were a middle order batsmen short and more crucially with out a spinner, and JP is heavily underutilised and underestimated as a spinner and SA were missing a variation. Thats why i feel 1 sub should be available to both teams only in the first day of play.

Posted by Min2_cric on (November 28, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

the rules should not be changed...the game is a great success...after sometime people will get bored of t20, and test cricket will thrill....

Posted by leave_it_to_the_umps on (November 28, 2012, 14:05 GMT)

I think 1 injury sub (12th Man) being able to bat/bowl would be a good option on the condition that once a player was subbed then they cannot come back. That would have allowed kallis and pattinson to be replaced but who was the 12th man would have impacted the decision on whether to use them. Oz had Starc as 12th man and whilst he could have helped bowl Oz to the win would he have scored the vital runs that pattinson scored on day 4 to take the option of a win away from SA. Whereas SA had Peterson who could have provided an extra spin option and eased the pressure on tahir and maybe reduced the target set by Oz but would he have helped SA as much batting given kallis was involved in 2 x 100ish run partnerships with FAF? The frist of which which avoided the follow on and basically saved this match from being over in 3-4 days and the second secured the draw. It would make for interesting tactical decisions re who is 12th man and whether to use them or not when an injury happens.

Posted by 777aditya on (November 28, 2012, 13:47 GMT)

This was tried in the past with good results - I don't see why cricket cannot follow football only in this aspect. Otherwise, IPL, EPL, BPL, etc, etc, etc is all a blatant copy of the premier leagues in football. I guess a team should comprise of 13 players in all formats and 2 replacements should be allowed to make cricket more interesting, regardless of injuries.

Posted by baghels.a on (November 28, 2012, 13:42 GMT)

For me in modern sports two Subsitutions is a must in all 3 formats of the game based on a tactical viewpoint. Ultimately you want a contest between bat and bowl, you want a fully fresh fast bowler charging at a batsmen at full throttle.As an Indian fan it would be a Godsend especially in a shorter formats where there are endless debates about weather to play 7 batters or 5 bowlers, for Eg- If India bat first they can have specialst batter coming till no. 8 or 9 and when they come to bowl later they can subsitute those two batters for two specialist bowlers.Football also faced resistance when this concept was introduced but it is the norm now.Tournaments like IPL and Big Bash can be used as trials ...

Posted by Biggus on (November 28, 2012, 13:35 GMT)

Well, as an Aussie I was uncomfortable watching Kallis bat without a runner in the recent game. His injury was obviously suffered in-game and I have no problem with the batsman having a runner in that situation. The rule still needs work I think so as to allow for legitimate cases such as that but to deal with abuse of the privilege.

Posted by pvwadekar on (November 28, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

An interesting article .. in case of genuine injury, eg JP Duminy and Pattinson replace a batsmen by a batsmen or bowler by bowler. Really like the idea that was proposed in Shield cricket. Let's consider the following -- cricket is oriented so much towards the batsmen..with the bouncer rule and feather bed pitches, but Test cricket is a supposed to be a real test so why not allow the bowling sides an extra seamer in the 1st inning and and extra spinner in the 2nd inning. Having an extra bowler at different stages will give captains an attacking option. It would also prevent injuries due to over bowling. Also having by constantly attacking, it would provide a result oriented test instead of draws. Think about this ..how many batsmen have been injured as compared to the bowlers because they had to play a long innings or due to "over batting". 6 batsmen, 1 keeper, 4 bowlers and 1 fast bowler and 1 spinner.. as needed .. during the stage of the match that can be a good composition.

Posted by Awesome_Ashes on (November 28, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

If a bowler is not performing well his captain will tell him to fake a injury then will be replaced by another bowler.. And suddnenly that bowler recovers next day. Imagine what a controversy it will be.. This is against the spirit of cricket.. Lets keep it as the way it is.. Thats the beauty of cricket..

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

Dunno about subs, but bring back runners. Getting rid of them in the first place as ludicrous.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2012, 12:54 GMT)

Wouldn't it be more apt to manage the amount of cricket each individual plays. And having separate teams for T20s and ODIs. Agreed some players are good in all formats. But most T20 players wont fit in to Test cricket anyway. So you really only have 2-3 players playing all 3 formats. And these players just need to be rested more in T20s (Example: Eng and Aus T20 teams)

Posted by Hammond on (November 28, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

Simple solution. Just get rid of T20 cricket. End of problem. Don't change the rules of a 150 year old game just to suit an abomination like T20.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.

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