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Monday, September 2, 2019

West Indies draft Jermaine Blackwood as concussion-sub !

Only a fortnight ago, this happened –  a top order batsman who can bowl some handy legspin, South African-born Marnus Labuschagne became 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.

Steve Smith was injured.  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 "On that basis Steve has been withdrawn from the match by team doctor Richard Saw and the Australia team will lodge an application for a concussion substitute with the ICC match referee in line with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". For sure, even the player entering would not want this to happen and sadly this happened for the 2nd time within a fortnight.

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can occur after an impact to one’s head or after a whiplash-type injury that causes one’s  head and brain to shake quickly back and forth. A concussion results in an altered mental state that may include becoming unconscious.  Anyone can become injured during a fall, car accident, or any other daily activity. In  impact sports such as football or boxing, participants have an increased risk of getting a concussion. Concussions, generally  are  not life-threatening, but they can cause serious symptoms that require medical treatment.

An aggressive batsman from Jamaica, Jermaine Blackwood broke into the West Indies Test squad in June 2014, during the home series against New Zealand, after a successful first-class season. The leading run-scorer in the 2013-14 season of Regional Four-Day Competition with 611 runs, Blackwood replaced Marlon Samuels after West Indies lost the first Test in Jamaica. A century against the touring Bangladesh A side few days before the Test helped his case too. Blackwood went on to score 63 runs but was left out in the third Test as West Indies opted for an extra bowler.

Now West Indies have drafted Jermaine Blackwood into their XI for the Jamaica Test as a concussion substitute for Darren Bravo. Bravo retired hurt on 23 on the fourth morning of the Test, having just driven Jasprit Bumrah to the cover boundary in the fourth over of the day.  Bravo had taken a blow to the helmet in the last over of day three, off a bouncer from Bumrah. The ball had struck the right side of his helmet, and sent his stem guards - which protect the batsman's neck area - flying. He faced two more balls on the third evening, and a further ten balls on Monday morning.  A medical examination confirmed a concussion, and match referee David Boon has approved West Indies' request for Blackwood to come into the game as a substitute.  A CWI spokesperson said Bravo had undergone a concussion test after the end of the third day's play, and passed it.

Blackwood came into bat at the fall of the fourth wicket, with West Indies needing a further 370 runs to win the Test, or survive just under five-and-a-half sessions to save it.  Blackwood wasn't in West Indies' original squad, but is from Jamaica, and had earlier fielded as a substitute during the match. The last of his 27 previous Test appearances came in Bulawayo in October-November 2017. He becomes the second concussion substitute in men's Test cricket, after the Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne, who came in for Steven Smith in the Lord's Ashes Test last month.

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 !   Way back in 1986 in the second Test at Leeds, Raman Lamba was in  as a substitute fielder to Krishnamachari Srikkanth.  A few overs later -  Srikkanth arrived on the field. None alerted .. and the commentator was heard screaming – ‘5 men on the On and 5 on the Off’ – what sounds strange ! – hey there are 12 of them on the field ! – that was for an entire over of Ravi Shastri.   

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
2nd Sept 2019.

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