Concussion sub could have cost Victoria

Cricket Australia say Bushrangers could have forfeited Sheffield Shield points if Sam Harper had been granted a replacement

Victoria risked losing competition points if their wish had been granted for injured wicketkeeper Sam Harper to be replaced in their Sheffield Shield match against South Australia over the weekend.

The Bushrangers were bitterly disappointed when they asked for a replacement player for Harper, who was hospitalised after being struck on the head during South Australia's first innings, but were knocked back by the Redbacks.

Harper struck by bat in Sheffield Shield

Bushrangers quick James Pattinson told SEN yesterday that the talk among the Bushrangers players was that the Vics would have allowed the Redbacks a replacement player had the roles been reversed.

But such a move would have risked the match's status as a first-class game and Cricket Australia Head of Cricket Operations Sean Cary says it's unlikely that the points Victoria earned for their 124-run victory would have been allowed to stand.

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"The rules are ... that it's a first-class game when it's 11 players per side," Cary told "As soon as that changes, it's no longer a first-class game.

"I can't see how we could allow the points to stand because the match has lost its first-class status and the Sheffield Shield is a first-class competition.

"That's my own personal view and that would need to be discussed amongst the Playing Conditions Committee."

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While replacing an injured player midway through a Sheffield Shield match would risk its first-class status, there is recent precedent of a replacement player being allowed in other circumstances.

Victoria were granted a replacement for skipper Matthew Wade in their selected side for a match against WA last summer after the wicketkeeper-batsman injured himself during the pre-game warm-ups. While the toss had been conducted and the official teams named, the Bushrangers did not gain any advantage from having an extra player as a ball had not yet been bowled.

Ironically, WA were essentially reduced to 10 men on the opening day of the same match when Hilton Cartwright suffered a serious hip injury, although the allrounder was able to hobble his way through two crucial innings with the bat as the Warriors secured a tense draw. 

And the withdrawal of players midway through a match for international duty, like when Test quick Mitchell Starc was pulled out of NSW's Shield game against Queensland earlier this summer, is allowed under the competition's Playing Conditions.

But in the Bushrangers’ case, not only would competition points have been at risk if a substitute player had been allowed, none of the performances in the match would have counted towards a player's first-class statistics.

Cary said he spoke to Cricket Victoria on Monday to clarify with the Bushrangers that they understood the potential outcome had Harper been replaced.

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"I doubt (the players) understand the severity of making the decision like that," he said.

"Certainly the (Cricket Victoria) administrators behind the scenes were aware that the match could lose its first-class status, but I don't think the players understand what that actually means.

"Definitely none of their statistics would count and as a Technical Committee we would need to discuss whether or not the points would count."

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As part of their new approach to head injuries in the wake of the Curtain Report into the death of Phillip Hughes, CA introduced concussion substitutes for all domestic one-day and Twenty20 matches this summer.

But despite wanting to introduce the same rule in the Sheffield Shield, CA opted not to risk their competition's first-class status after the International Cricket Council decided against the implementation of concussion subs at first-class and international level. This means the ICC essentially classifies concussion the same as other injuries. 

However, as part of CA's new concussion guidelines, medical staff will withdraw a player from any match if they are diagnosed with concussion regardless of whether or not a substitute is available.

So while a player who suffers any other form of injury during a match can still technically take the field of play if required - as Cartwright managed to do in the example cited previously - a concussed player would be restricted from doing so.

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Cary was hopeful that it was only a matter of time before concussion subs were available at all levels of domestic and international cricket.

"We still would like to see a concussion sub introduced in first-class cricket," he said.

"If no other country wants to do it then we're prepared to trial it and report back to (the ICC), as long as the competition retains its first-class status."