Published: 21st March, 2018
Concussion Replacements will be available for the first time in all four professional domestic competitions this summer, in one of several significant changes to the Playing Conditions for 2018.
A team will now be able to replace a player who has concussion or a suspected concussion in any Specsavers County Championship, Royal London One-Day Cup, Vitality Blast and Kia Super League match, and the replacement will be permitted to bat and bowl.
The replacement must be deemed a “like for like” replacement by the Cricket Liaison Officer appointed for each match, or by the umpires if a Cricket Liaison Officer is not present.
Other new features of the 2018 season, which follow the changes to the Laws of Cricket introduced by the MCC last autumn, include immediate on-field punishment for disciplinary offences and mock fielding, and restrictions on the size and shape of bats.
Dr Nick Peirce, the ECB’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “This season, each team, home and away, at first and second team level, will have to be supported by a medical professional who is qualified to make judgements on possible concussion following a head-strike.
“They will initially have a five-minute period to make an on-field assessment, and if concerns remain, that assessment will continue off the field, as previously. At this stage, there is no Concussion Replacement – and there is no time limit on deciding whether or not the player can return to the match.
“But if the medical professional feels that the player has or may have been concussed, they will notify the Cricket Liaison Officer*. It will then be down to the CLO to approve the concussed player’s team’s nomination of a Replacement.”
Alan Fordham, the ECB’s Head of Cricket Operations, added: “We appreciate that the phrase ‘like for like’ leaves a need for some flexibility and interpretation. We will aim to replace the resource lost by the affected side – but not so much that they are advantaged by a concussion replacement.
“For example they would not gain permission for a specialist batsman to be replaced by a specialist bowler if they were bowling in the fourth innings, or for a fast bowler to be replaced by a spinner if that team were to be bowling later in the match.”
The MCC introduced Law 42 last autumn dealing specifically with players’ conduct.
If a player is judged by the umpires to have committed a Level 1 offence, their team will receive an official warning that applies to every member of the team for the rest of the match.
A further Level 1 offence in the match by any player from that team would then bring an automatic five-run penalty.
A Level 2 offence would incur an immediate five-run penalty.
Level 3 and Level 4 offences would lead to players being sent from the field, either temporarily or for the rest of the match, in addition to five-run penalties.
The ECB Cricket Committee and Board have also agreed to introduce the MCC’s new Law 5, which restricts the thickness of edges of bats to 40mm, and the overall depth of bats to 67mm.
Umpires will be equipped with bat gauges to check a bat’s legality off the field or during play should they deem it necessary.
Punishment for players using bats that breach the Law will be determined under the same Playing Regulation as the one covering changing the condition of the ball – penalties would be heavy and impactful.
Another change which has been brought to the attention of players before the season concerns “mock fielding” – a deliberate attempt by a fielder to deceive the batsman. That is now covered by Law 41, Unfair Play – and will also be punished with a five-run penalty.