Why the 'X-Factor' can work where the Super Sub failed

Brisbane Heat coach Darren Lehmann explains how he plans to use the new 'X-Factor' rule in this Big Bash League season

Fifteen years after the Super Sub fell flat in international cricket, Brisbane Heat coach Darren Lehmann is confident the introduction of a similar rule to the KFC BBL will be far more successful.

Cricket Australia today announced three new rule changes for the BBL's tenth season, including the 'X-Factor', a player who can be substituted into a game after the 10th over of the first innings to replace any teammate who is yet to bat, or has bowled no more than one over.

The 'X-Factor' echoes the Super Sub rule, which was introduced in 2005 in a bid to shake-up one-day international cricket but was abandoned less than 12 months later.

The Super Sub rule failed largely because teams only had one substitute player to choose from, who had to be nominated before the coin toss. Teams often selected a specialist bowler or batsman as their substitute, meaning the player went unused if a team completed their sub's specialist discipline first. This put greater emphasis on success at the toss and sometimes left teams that lost the toss essentially fielding 11 players against 12.

But BBL teams can choose from two pre-nominated players to sub in, instead of just one, which Lehmann believes will increase the chances of the new player making a meaningful impact on the game.

"This time you can be a bit more specific with it," he said.

"If you think it's going to turn, you play two spinners (in the starting XI). And if it doesn't turn and you want the extra quick or an allrounder, you have a bit more room to move with a 12th and 13th man.

"It gives you a bit more flexibility.

"If you're batting first and you're four (out) for not many, you need an extra batter and you'd sub a bowler out to allow you to get a bigger total.

"And vice versa; if you're batting really well and you're none or one for 100, you could sub a batter out and bring in another bowler.

"I think we'd use it a bit more than people will think."

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While Lehmann is a fan of the new rule, he concedes taking a player out of a game before they've been given the chance to make an impact will be difficult for coaches.

"I can't imagine it'll be pleasurable at the 10-over mark to tell someone they're subbed out," he said.

"(They'll think), 'I haven't done anything wrong and I'm being subbed out of the game'. That'll be tough for them.

"I would have found that quite frustrating (as a player) because you're expecting to play in front of big crowds … so that'll be really hard. We'll have to work through that.

"But as long as you're open as a team with those kind of scenarios, you know what could happen. That's just about being clear with your instructions as a team … and being as open as you can."

Another new BBL rule, the 'Power Surge', also has echoes of a tweak that has already been trailled and scrapped at international level. The Power Surge is a two-over block nominated by the batting side after the halfway point of their innings where the fielding team can have just two fielders outside the inner circle, similar to the batting Powerplay in ODI cricket from 2011 to 2015.

The other rule announced today was the 'Bash Boost' bonus point to be awarded halfway through the second innings. CA's BBL consultant, Trent Woodhill, suggested the Bash Boost could lead to teams abandoning a near impossible run chase over 20 overs and instead focusing on gaining a point for achieving a more realistic target after 10 overs.

But Lehmann believes the Power Surge will actually make daunting run chases more achievable and lead to closer finishes, where a team facing a challenging required run rate can quickly bring themselves back into the game.

"You'd think those two overs would allow those (scenarios where you need) 50 or 60 runs off the last five overs, which you want to have close games, it could happen more regularly," he said.

"And if you're chasing a lot of runs, you're probably going to (sub in) an extra batter so you can bat a bit deeper.

"I think you'll leave (the Power Surge) late if you can, but you won't leave it until (overs) 19 and 20. I think you'll take it at around the 15-16-over mark.

"But you might need to get ahead of the rate to get back into the game, so you might need to take it at 11."