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Explained: Why India won’t be allowed to replace Ashwin in the playing XI

Last updated on 17 Feb 2024 | 04:50 AM
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Explained: Why India won’t be allowed to replace Ashwin in the playing XI

An unforeseen family emergency forced Ashwin to exit the game mid-way through the contest

With England ending Day 2 strongly on 207/2, Ravichandran Ashwin, who took his 500th Test wicket on Friday (February 16), was expected to be a key player for the Indian side across the final three days of the Test on a rather flat Rajkot wicket.

However, an unforeseen family medical emergency forced Ashwin to exit the game mid-way through the contest, just hours after the second day’s play on Friday. 

India, for the time being, have drafted Devdutt Padikkal in as a substitute for Ashwin, but there’s been plenty of confusion around whether India can actually replace Ashwin in the XI with another like-for-like player (say, Washington Sundar).

Here’s what the laws say

Will India be allowed to replace Ashwin in the XI with a like-for-like replacement?

Unfortunately, no. The laws don’t permit India to draft in a replacement for Ashwin, who can bat or bowl. They will be permitted to use a substitute fielder for the rest of the match, but that’s all.

But isn’t there a law that permits India to replace a player with the consent of the opposition captain?

Yes, and the relevant law here is 1.2 Nomination and replacement of players.

1.2.2 says “No player may be replaced after the nomination without the consent of the opposing captain.”

However, the key point to be noted here is this particular process can happen only after the toss and before the match. 

What do we mean by that?

Captains exchange team sheets at the toss, and the sheets they provide have 11 players listed as starters. However, say, just minutes after the toss, a player injures himself during the warm-up (before the start of play), then the team can replace the injured player only with the consent of the opposition captain.

This is a pretty common occurrence. 

What if Ashwin returns to Rajkot now? Will he be allowed to bat and bowl again?

Indeed. If Ashwin returns, he will be permitted to come back straight into the XI. He will be allowed to both bat and bowl for the rest of the game. 

What are the circumstances under which a player can be replaced?

As of now, the laws permit teams to fully replace an individual in the starting XI only due to COVID, and for concussion. 

Since the concussion replacement came into effect on August 1, 2019, there have been plenty of in-game concussion replacements. Marnus Labuschagne, famously, was the first-ever concussion replacement in Test cricket. 

Since the COVID replacement came into effect in 2020, teams have also utilized the rule. In 2022, during the second Test between South Africa and Bangladesh in Gqeberha, both Sarel Erwee and Wiaan Mulder were replaced on Day 4 of the test after testing positive for COVID.

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