ICC uses its head in historic concussion ruling
CONCUSSION substitutes will be approved for the Sheffield Shield this summer and look set to be ratified for Test cricket within two years.
Cricket Australia has been pushing hard for the major amendment to cricket's 150-year-old playing conditions and it has now been given the green light by the International Cricket Council to make the landmark change in player safety for this summer.
It follows key recommendations made by the independent Curtain Report, which investigated the tragic death of beloved cricketer Phillip Hughes in November 2014.
The imminent rule change means if a batsman suffers a head knock, they can now be replaced at the crease by a like-for-like substitute, who would be permitted to bat, bowl and field.
"Cricket Australia has been a strong advocate for concussion substitutes and we have successfully introduced this into our other competitions," said a CA spokesperson.
"We look forward to formalising the introduction of this rule into the Sheffield Shield ahead of this season."
For as long as the game has been played, Test cricket has always strictly been about the XI chosen and if injury occurs, it's either battle on or let your teammates suffer the consequences.
However, in light of compelling evidence about athletes and brain trauma, that attitude simply doesn't cut it in modern sport.
The MCC Cricket Committee spearheaded by Ricky Ponting and other former greats declared in June the game must take concussion seriously, and the push for concussion subs to enter first-class cricket has since been ratified by the ICC chief executives committee.
Member nations can trial concussion subs in first-class competitions from October 1, with the ICC now making the necessary changes to the Official Classification of Cricket to make that possible.
After that final box has been ticked, CA will immediately announce concussion subs will be part of the Shield competition, after last summer leading the way by introducing the safety-first playing condition in all domestic one-day and T20 competitions.
The ICC will monitor the trial but the Cricket Committee has given its preliminary endorsement for concussion subs to be introduced in international cricket in two years.
NSW opener Daniel Hughes became the first player to be officially subbed for concussion in last summer's Matador Cup, when he was struck on the helmet by Peter Siddle and replaced in the Blues' batting line-up by Nick Larkin.
However, with ICC rules not allowing concussion subs for last year's Shield, there was an ugly incident in a first-class match between Victoria and South Australia where the Redbacks refused their opponents a keeping replacement after gloveman Sam Harper was inadvertently smacked in the head with a bat standing up to the stumps.
The rule change would remove those decisions from the hands of players and umpires and make the head sacrosanct when it comes to the treatment of injuries.
The Australian cricket team is already governed by a strict concussion policy which has resulted in Chris Rogers being ruled out of Tests - however, national teams with poorer resources like Pakistan don't even have doctors travelling with them on tour, leaving them susceptible to taking dangerous risks with player safety in the absence of concussion subs.