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Ponting on the Impact Player: A 'nightmare' for coaches, a 'spectacle' for fans

"It'd be really interesting to hear what the public think about it. If the everyday viewer really likes it and thinks it's good, then it can continue."

Nagraj Gollapudi
The Impact Player rule has given him "nightmares", but Ricky Ponting, Delhi Capitals' head coach, is happy for the IPL to retain it if it is making the tournament a "better spectacle."
"I can answer it in two ways," Ponting told ESPNcricinfo in a conversation on April 16, a day after Sunrisers Hyderabad plundered 287 against Royal Challengers Bengaluru to break their own record, established earlier this season, for the highest IPL total. "It'd be really interesting to hear what the public think about it. If the everyday viewer really likes it and thinks it's good, then it can continue.
"If the average person gets a bit confused by it and doesn't know what's going on - an Impact Player here, someone goes in, someone comes out - if they are confused by it [then you have a rethink]. At the end of the day, we've got to think about the product that's going there and what everyone's watching as well."
From his perspective as a coach, Ponting admitted he wasn't too keen on the Impact Player rule, which was introduced by the IPL in the 2023 season, allowing a team to bring in a 12th player as a tactical substitute. While the move was welcomed by captains, coaches and players in its inaugural run last season, there have been voices of opposition this year. Among them is India captain Rohit Sharma, who led Mumbai Indians to five IPL titles.
In a conversation this week with the Club Prairie Fire podcast co-hosted by Adam Gilchrist and Michael Vaughan, Rohit said he was "not a big fan" of the Impact Player primarily because it was detrimental for the development of allrounders especially in India.
Ponting agreed with Rohit, and said it would be a simpler job for a coach if he only had to pick the best XI.
"From a player's point and a coach's point of view, the game would be much easier if you just pick 11, just pick your best 11 and put the 11 on the park and go and play," Ponting said. "Because I'll tell you now, we'll sit back after training tonight and select our teams and you've got to pick two teams and you've got to have your five impact guys.
"There's so many different ways you can go around doing that, looking at different combinations. It actually can be a bit of a nightmare."
The Impact Player has helped teams, especially those stacked with power hitters such as Sunrisers and Kolkata Knight Riders, to bat explosively across the three phases this season and set totals in excess of 250 more than once. A total of 549 runs were scored in what was a batting gala in Bengaluru where RCB lost to Sunrisers by 25 runs.
Ponting, who was busy overseeing Capitals' training on Monday evening in Motera, was informed by his son Fletcher about Sunrisers making 287 in Bengaluru on the back of a blistering Travis Head century.
Later in the evening Ponting received several messages from friends who were astonished by the slew of records broken in Bengaluru including that for the most sixes in a team innings. "It looks to me like [the Impact Player is] having an impact on the game," Ponting said. "More runs are being scored. So you'd think people that were sitting back and watching that game last night would be mesmerised by the cricket. I was getting messages last night saying what a crazy game of cricket, what an unbelievable game of cricket.
"So if the Impact Player is making it a better spectacle, then it should stay."

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo