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Monday, August 19, 2019

Mamus Labuschagne makes history after Steve Smith concussion !

A top order batsman who can bowl some handy legspin, South African-born Marnus Labuschagne made a shock Test debut for Australia against Pakistan on the 2018 tour of the UAE and has not done great since.  Now he is part of history -  No one in the 142-year history of Test match cricket had done what Marnus Labuschagne managed on day five at Lord's in 2019. 

No one previously had ever woken up on the final morning of a game not knowing whether or not he would be part of the playing XI, and by day's end been the key bulwark against a revved up and desperate England bowling attack to help secure a battling draw for the Australians in fading light. No one had done so to preserve a 1-0 series lead either. Confusing !! 

The score card at Lords reads : England 258 (Burns 53, Bairstow 52) and 258 for 5 dec (Stokes 115*, Cummins 3-35) drew with Australia 250 (Smith 92, Broad 4065) and 154 for 6 (Labuschagne 59, Head 42, Archer 3-32, Leach 3-37). In a match featuring such high drama, there had to be a twist or two. So there was as England dominated an Australia side missing the concussed Steven Smith, threatened to snatch victory via Jofra Archer's fireballs and then succumbed to some dogged batting by Smith's replacement as the second Test ended in a draw - but not before the hosts threatened for a second time to steal the win.

Smith was ruled out before play on the final day at Lord's after waking with symptoms of concussion, despite initial assessments having cleared him to resume his innings the previous day after suffering a nasty blow to the neck from an Archer bouncer. After rain delayed the start by more than an hour, the sun broke through to reveal a continuation of the thrilling contest this match had become after a washed-out opening day. Marnus Labuschagne, became the first concussion replacement in Test history under play conditions introduced on August 1, withstood more Archer barrages to score a half-century which was pivotal in helping Australia avoid defeat after Archer and Jack Leach had nullified the tourists' top order. Labuschagne's 59 was Australia's top score for their second innings and came after he had been hit flush on the helmet grille by a ball from Archer on the first legal delivery he faced.

Steven Smith was ruled out of the Lord's Ashes Test and was highly unlikely to take the field in the next Test at Headingley after he became the first cricketer to be formally substituted out of a Test match with concussion, replaced on the final day of the match by Marnus Labuschagne. While Smith had initially passed concussion testing and returned to complete his innings in the hour after he was struck a sickening blow to the neck by Jofra Archer on the fourth afternoon, mandatory subsequent testing on the fifth morning of the match revealed his condition to have deteriorated.

On the official notification by the Australian team to the ICC match referee Ranjan Madugalle, Smith's symptoms were described as "headache, dizziness, feeling slowed down, feeling in a fog, don't feel right, drowsiness". He is set to undergo further precautionary scans on his neck to assess whether there is any further damage. "As part of the Cricket Australia concussion protocol, repeat concussion testing of Steve Smith was also performed this morning and demonstrated some deterioration from his testing which is consistent with the emergence of the symptoms he was reporting," a Cricket Australia spokesman said. "On that basis Steve has been withdrawn from the match by team doctor Richard Saw and the Australia team will lodge an application for a concussion substitute with the ICC match referee in line with the ICC protocol.

A player is no longer under pressure to take the field when he or she displays symptoms of concussion and a side is not disadvantaged having lost a player to a blow to the head or neck. Each of the ICC, CA and the ECB have their own concussion policies, but all stress the need for caution in dealing with potential or actual concussion cases. CA's policy, which was used in domestic cricket as a forerunner to the introduction of a concussion protocol for international cricket at the start of this Ashes series, states "in case of uncertainty, the qualified medical officer should always adopt a conservative approach to return to play".

MailOnline also reports of a MCC member kicked out of Lord's pavilion for booing Australian cricketer Steve Smith after he was hit on the head and concussed by fast ball. The Australian batsman was on his way back to the dressing room after he was given lbw on 92 runs, having returned to the middle after being floored by a Jofra Archer fast ball earlier in the day. The member is understood to have booed Smith, 28, and fired verbals as the batsman trudged through the Long Room, packed with members on Saturday. It is thought to be the first time a member of Marylebone Cricket Club, founded in 1787, has been ejected for such behaviour following a rule change in May, The Times reported. The jeers were heard when Smith left the field for 40 minutes to receive treatment after being caught on the neck by a ruthless bouncer from Archer. Greg Dyer and Alistair Nicholson, the chairman and CEO of ACA, said: 'The reality is that cricket can be a dangerous sport, especially when the bowling is as ferocious as it has been in this series. 'To see the protocols practiced at Lords overnight was important and correct. 'What was unwelcome and incorrect was the sound of booing of an injured player. Cricket deserves much better than that. And Lord's, the home of cricket, deserves much better than that also. What we witnessed was bravery from an outstanding young man. It should be commended not vilified.

Smith, regarded as one of the most talented batsmen of his generation, made himself vulnerable after the infamous ball tampering scandal on Australia's tour of South Africa in 2018. Smith was forced to resign as the captain, along with David Warner, the vice captain, and both received year long bans over ball scuffing in Johannesburg in March of last year. Rookie Cameron Bancroft was recruited by the pair to carry out the operation, using a piece of sticky tape with granules of dirt stuck to it. Bancroft was suspended for nine months. All three players have featured in the Ashes series against England so far this summer.

Now getting back to ‘substitutes’ in Cricket – there was a time when there was a rule that substitute fielders would not be allowed in specialist positions and substitution for Wicket keeper was not allowed !  In Nov. 2013 - at Mohali, India completed an emphatic 8 wkt victory over Lankans.  That was the first time Indians played  with the Super sub rule.  : Unlike days of yore, cricket is not a game played only by Eleven but 12. according to that new rule - : Each team designates a 12th man before the toss, who can be subbed to bat or bowl at any stage of the match. The substitution will be announced over the PA system and details of the change shown on the giant screen. Once the 12th man is in play, the man he replaced cannot return to bat or bowl..

India fumbled with that option – in first one dayer -  it was Murali Kartik for Y Venugopala Rao, who did not bat and thus not utilized effectively.  At Mohali,  it was a blunder (though this has no relevance on the result of the match) India named S Sreesanth,  won the toss;  inserted Sri Lanka in to bat, thereby ensuring that they gave themselves the least possible chance of taking advantage of a rule which allowed a team to utilise an extra resource.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Aug 2019.

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