New laws to allow 'keeping subs

MCC confirms injured glovemen to be allowed to hand gloves over to fielding replacement

Louis Cameron

12 April 2017, 03:12 PM AEST

The long-standing rule preventing the 12th man from wicketkeeping is set to be overhauled under the Marylebone Cricket Club's new Code of Laws.

The traditional guardians of the Laws of Cricket confirmed substitute fielders will be permitted to don the gloves when a wicketkeeper suffers an injury from October when the new set of rules comes into effect.

Umpires will need to give their approval for a substitute fielder to take up the role in order to prevent teams from taking advantage of the new concession.

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"It was felt that, if the original wicketkeeper was genuinely injured, then a substitute should be allowed to take over, but that the umpires should control the situation to prevent abuse," the MCC explained in a summary of their amendments to Code.

"A substitute still cannot bowl, bat or act as captain."

The rule preventing substitutes from acting as wicketkeepers has been officially enshrined in the Laws of Cricket since 1980.

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The MCC's change paves the way for the new rule to be implemented in both international and domestic cricket in Australia, though both the International Cricket Council and Cricket Australia have the power to introduce their own playing conditions for matches under their jurisdictions.

It comes after Victoria were denied a replacement player for wicketkeeper Sam Harper in February when he was severely concussed during a Sheffield Shield match in February.

Despite wearing a helmet while standing up to spinner Jon Holland, Harper suffered the serious injury when South Australia batsman Jake Lehmann accidentally struck him in the head in his follow through.

Harper struck by bat in Sheffield Shield

The Bushrangers had wanted to use a substitute but CA's head of cricket operations Sean Cary said such a move would have cost the game its first-class status.

"The rules are ... that it's a first-class game when it's 11 players per side," Cary told at the time. "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 (Cricket Australia's) Playing Conditions Committee."

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That committee is set to discuss the MCC's new Code of Laws in the coming weeks.

Despite their new approach to substitutes keeping wicket, the MCC have not made allowances for concussion substitutes in their first update to the Code since 2000.

Following recommendations from the Curtain Report into the death of Phillip Hughes, Cricket Australia permitted replacements for players who suffered concussions in all domestic one-day and Twenty20 matches last summer.

NSW batsman Nick Larkin became the first concussion sub after replacing Daniel Hughes in their Matador BBQs One-Day Cup elimination final against Victoria after Hughes was struck on the helmet while batting.

Hughes retires hurt after Siddle helmet blow

But while CA wanted to introduce the same rule into the Sheffield Shield, it opted not to risk the competition's first-class status after the ICC decided against implementing concussion subs in international cricket.

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

"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."