Friday, December 4, 2020

India beats Australia in T20I at Canberra ~ Concussion Sub becomes Man of the Match

The English idiom ‘Apples to Oranges’ is an analogy that dissimilar items shall not be compared ! and it would be unfair to do so. ‘Apple for apple and orange for orange’ – one cannot compare an Apple with an Orange.   It   refers to the apparent differences between items which are popularly thought to be incomparable or incommensurable. The idiom may also be used to indicate that a false analogy has been made between two items, such as where an orange  is faulted for not being a good apple.

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 and later at Lords in 2019 became part of history of what none in the 142-year history of Test match cricket had done  

Today at Canberra, India won the first T20I – T Natarajan made his debut and bowled impressively.  The scorecard reads : India 161 for 7 (Rahul 51, Jadeja 44*, Henriques 3-22, Starc 2-34) beat Australia 150 for 7 (Finch 35, Short 34, Chahal 3-25, Natarajan 3-30) by 11 runs.  First Shikhar Dhawan was cleaned up by Starc, Rahul batted very well, Sanju Samson played a good cameo, Hardik Pandya played some good shots and Jadeja took the score high .. .. this is no post on match details but on ‘substitution’ – Concussion Sub to be precise !



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.

Today at Canberra, Concussion substitute Yuzvendra Chahal plucked three vital wickets and opened a fresh chapter in cricket's long history of debating topics after being chosen - controversially - to replace Ravindra Jadeja, delivering India a comfortable victory in the opening T20I at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

Jadeja's exit from the contest - he suffered a hamstring injury first and was then hit on the helmet in the last over of India's innings - allowed India to call upon a wristspinner in Chahal, who had been harshly treated during the ODI series but found himself defending a serviceable total on the night and responding grandly. When Jadeja was struck on the helmet by Starc in the final over of an innings he played a key role in pushing to competitive territory, having already been restricted by an apparent hamstring strain while batting, his case raised all sorts of questions. Not checked for concussion on the field, Jadeja was apparently assessed between innings and found to be suffering from a possible concussion. India's squad lists include a doctor - Abjihit Salvi - but there had been no mandatory test on field for a hit on the helmet as now has become commonplace in Australia.



Once the decision for a concussion substitute was made, the questions evolved into those around the right replacement. In what was a very public debate between Langer and match referee - also his first batting partner in a Test match - David Boon, it was very clear the hosts were miffed by both the concussion situation and the fact that Chahal was chosen as Jadeja's replacement. But just as Langer himself had recently demonstrated when he revealed the selection debate around whether to choose Mitchell Marsh or Marnus Labuschagne to sub for Steven Smith in the 2019 Ashes Test at Lord's, "like for like" is a very subjective concept. It only became more so when Chahal dismissed Finch and Smith, to give India a chance of upsetting the Australian chase.

The arguments can be endless – one has to see it in some perspective.  Jadeja was certified by a Doctor and had to be replaced.  He was in no position to bowl. Given the team composition of 5 bowlers, he certainly would have bowled 4 overs of his quota as a spinner and Chahal fitted exactly in that .. .. in someways, Chahal would be less than 50% comparison for the fielding abilities of Jadeja !! – so one may not find a perfect match .. .. the intention of the rule is ‘if a batsman is injured – you replace him with a batsman and not an all-rounder, so that the substitute turns his bowling arm, while the original batsman would not have!’

                        Australia have won the ODI series and are still in the T20I series. On another, India have emerged from the funk of the first two games of their tour in Sydney, and have now twice beaten the hosts in two games in different formats to give their visit a sense of momentum. They did so with an impressive ensemble effort with the ball, whatever the whys and wherefores of Chahal subbing in for Jadeja. Moises Henriques was quoted as saying -  Australia have no problem with Ravindra Jadeja being substituted out for a concussion, but has questioned if Yuzvendra Chahal was a like-for-like replacement for him.

A combination of Jadeja, the batsman, and Chahal, the bowler, knocked Australia out in a T20 international that they controlled for long periods. Jadeja first rescued India from 114 for 6 to help post 161 with an unbeaten 23-ball 44. In the process, he did appear to injure his hamstring, but also top-edged a Mitchell Starc bouncer into his helmet in the last over of the innings. He was substituted by Chahal in the innings break, and the wristspinner turned in a match-winning analysis of 4-0-25-3, which included the wickets of Aaron Finch and Steven Smith.

During the innings break, an animated Australia coach, Justin Langer, could be seen remonstrating with match referee David Boon.  However, the final decision rested with Boon, the match referee. The ICC playing conditions say: "In assessing whether the nominated concussion replacement should be considered a like-for-like player, the ICC Match Referee should consider the likely role the concussed player would have played during the remainder of the match, and the normal role that would be performed by the nominated concussion replacement."

While the debate could rage on for some time, Yuzvendra Chahal became the first concussion substitute to be named Player of the Match in international cricket  - there have been few concussions subs in Tests.  On Nov 1, 2019,  Shabika Gajnabi became the first concussion substitute in women's cricket when she replaced Chinelle Henry, who was concussed after hitting the advertising boards while fielding in an ODI game against India.  In June 2020, ICC approved another sub rule – ‘the Covid sub’.  It stated that if a player was found COVID-19 positive in the middle of a series, he would be isolated on an immediate basis and would be put into quarantine. The player, who tested positive would further get disallowed from taking part in the remainder of the series.  In October 2020, in the opening round of the 2020–21 Plunket Shield season, Benjamin Lister became the first COVID-19 replacement in a cricket match.  Lister replaced Mark Chapman, who reported feeling unwell, inline with the updated International Cricket Council (ICC) playing conditions for a substitute due to COVID.

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 ! .. .. and years later ICC experimented with ‘Substitute rule’ allowing 12 players to play.   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. As per that rule, each team could designate a 12th man before the toss, who can be subbed to bat or bowl at any stage of the match.  

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

4.12.2020.

  

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