The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to introduce a tactical player substitution rule termed Impact Player in its domestic T20 cricket tournaments, starting with the upcoming Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, which kicks off from October 11.

The new rule has been brought in to make the game of cricket more interesting and competitive. It is inspired by the substitution rules already in use in other team sports like football, basketball, baseball and rugby.

The Indian cricket board will be testing the Impact Player rule in the forthcoming edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy before introducing it in the high-profile Indian T20 League.

What is the Impact Player rule?

The Impact Player rule will allow teams to make a tactical player substitution in every domestic T20 matches starting with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

According to the document released by the BCCI, teams have to name four substitutes along with their starting XI on the team sheet before the toss. Only one of these four players can be used as an Impact Player, allowing the substitute player to take an active part in the match. This would certainly add a new strategic dimension to cricket’s shortest format. 

The Impact Player will be allowed to bat and bowl their full quota of overs and can replace any starting XI player before the 14th over of either innings. Furthermore, it will be up to the teams to decide when or whether to use their Impact Player.

Before deciding to make the tactical move, the captain/head coach/team manager has to inform the on-field or the fourth umpire before the end of the over in play at the time.

For a batting side, an Impact Player can be introduced after the fall of a wicket or during the innings break.

Meanwhile, in case of delayed matches or shortened matches of less than 10 overs, the Impact Player rule is not applicable.

The Impact Player has a broad tactical scope as there are no proper limitations on the role they can perform. For example, the Impact Player can replace a batter who has already been dismissed as long as the team uses only 11 batters. On the other hand, they could replace a bowler who has already bowled a few overs and still get to bowl their full quota of four overs.

The new rule has received mixed reviews with cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle questioning the move.

Harsha Bhogle took to Twitter and wrote, “When you inject new elements to spice up things, you fall into the trap of having to invent such features regularly. ‘What's new this year’ becomes the theme. If T20 gets jaded as 50 overs cricket seemed when T20 was invented, you could look at rejuvenating it. For now it is fine." 

BCCI aims to implement the rule in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Meanwhile, we can only wait and watch how the rule will change the dynamics of the T20 matches.

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Featured photo: MANJUNATH KIRAN / AFP