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Cricket Australia to ask ICC to consider concussion substitute

Cricket Australia (CA) will ask the ICC to consider implementing substitutes into first-class cricket as a result of the association’s curtain review into the death of Phillip Hughes.

Hughes tragically died at the age of 25 in November 2014 after he was struck in the neck by a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG.

The independent review, which was conducted by president of the Australian Bar Association David Curtain QC, did not make a formal recommendation on the use of substitutes, however CA will take the matter to the ICC regardless to implement the rule into domestic matches.

“Of concern to some is the fact that players who have been struck on the head and have suffered some symptoms (of concussion) may not admit to this as they would not want to prejudice the team by leaving it effectively a man short in batting and/or bowling,” Curtain wrote in his report.

“In some quarters, there is agitation for the rules to be changed to accommodate a substitute who can bat and/or bowl, in contrast with the existing rules.

“As my terms of reference do not extend to matters involving the rules of the game, I have no suggestions to make in this regard, but merely draw it to Cricket Australia’s attention that this may be a matter requiring ongoing consideration.”

Under the current CA “Concussion and Head Injury Policy”, which was described as “sensible and commendable” by Curtain, team medical staff have sole discretion as to whether any Australia player at national, state or elite pathway level who have been struck in the head can continue.

Return to the field is ruled out on the day the injury is sustained if concussion is diagnosed.

CA chief executive James Sutherland said his association was exploring the possibility of allowing a concussion substitute in domestic matches and would approach the ICC to consider doing the same.

“ICC approval of the introduction of substitutes is required in order for four-day matches to retain their first class status,” he said.

“The Cricket Australia Playing Conditions Advisory Committee will also consider recommendations relating to concussion substitutes in all other domestic cricket competitions under CA’s auspices.”

Other recommendations from the report include the use of protective helmets in training, a defibrillator be available at all first-class matches, protective headwear for umpires to be considered and any helmet that is struck with force be immediately replaced.

The report also said that the treatment Hughes received after being struck and the delay of an ambulance to transport him to hospital had no effect on his death.

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