The 2023 IPL will see the introduction of the Impact Player. This is a player outside the starting XI who can come in to bat, bowl or both – a sub in other words. We put it to you that tactical substitutions make cricket worse.
This year’s IPL starts on March 31 with the final scheduled for May 28. They announced the Impact Player thing back in December, but we didn’t report it because honestly who gives a…
How will the Impact Player rule work?
Each team will list four substitutes at the toss. They will then be allowed to use one of them as their Impact Player.
That player can be introduced at pretty much any moment in the match. As far as we can tell, just about the only thing they can’t do is come in to finish someone else’s over.
One interesting element is that the Impact Player won’t inherit the bowling allocation from the player being subbed off. That means the captain could give someone four overs and then sub them off for another bowler.
That would mean you could pick an extra batter in your starting XI, which so often seems to be the goal with these innovations.
Why does the Impact Player rule make cricket worse?
There’s always been this idea in cricket administration that fans want to see the best players and that the best against the best is therefore all anyone wants. There’s then this temptation to try and engineer the game to give people the best batters and the best bowlers and nothing else.
T20 cricket is already a good few steps along this road. In a 20-over game, there’s no guarantee that everyone will bat. A lot of people assume this is great even though the most exciting T20 matches are often the ones where everyone does bat.
Just the same as with a Test match, there’s a lot more jeopardy and therefore a lot more excitement when the outcome of a game rests in the hands of those least qualified to do the job.
Matches feel like a bigger deal when the best players are involved, but cricket is at its most exciting when matches that are a big deal are decided by ordinary mortals. You need both those things. Cricket’s habit of routinely throwing people of limited ability into elite sport scenarios is a large part of the reason why it is the greatest sport of all.
Tail-enders are great. Part-time bowlers are great. Trying to muddle through in one area so that you can pick a specialist in another area is great.
One of the best things about the selection of a cricket team is trying to effectively give yourself an extra batter or bowler without actually having the option of using a 12th player.
Tactical substitutions make cricket worse.