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IPL 2024: The big debate around Impact Player rule

IPL 2024: The Impact Player rule has disturbed the balance of the game? The debate over Impact Player rule has separated the cricket fraternity into two groups. Let's deep dive on the opinions on Impact Player rule.

IPL 2024: Ravi Shashtri voiced about Impact Player rule | Walking Wicket (Images: ©BCCI_IPL)
Ravi Shashtri voiced about Impact Player rule (Images: ©BCCI/IPL)

The introduction of the Impact Player rule in the Indian Premier League (IPL) has ignited a spirited debate among players, coaches and cricket enthusiasts. This rule, which permits teams to make a strategic substitution during a match, was initially tested in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament before being adopted for the IPL 2023 season.

One of the most vocal supporters of this rule is Ravi Shastri, the former head coach of the Indian cricket team. Shastri believes that the rule adds a fresh dynamic to the game, aligning cricket with other sports that utilise strategic substitutions. 

Ravi Shastri’s Take on Impact Player Rule

"The Impact Player [rule] is good. You have to evolve with the times. You know, it happens in other sports as well. It's got tighter finishes. You have to evolve with the times and I think it's a good rule. You saw the number of tight finishes we had in last year's IPL. So, you know, it has made a big difference," Shastri explained during a conversation with Ravichandran Ashwin on the YouTube channel "Kutty Stories with Ash".

"The impact player rule allows an eighth player to feature in the playing XI. It gives the opportunity to the players who are unknown to the world," he added. 

While Ashwin also made a point that players like wicketkeeper-batter Dhruv Jurel, who recently made a debut in Test cricket, came to the limelight when he stepped onto the field as an impact player and smashed some quick runs. 

Another notable thing is that the rule has allowed the players who are not fully fit, like Joss Buttler or Rinku Singh, to take part in the game. Buttler, who came out to bat as an impact player in the second innings, scored his seventh IPL century against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB). The knock proved to be crucial as he took Rajasthan Royals (RR) single handedly over the line. 

IPL 2024_ Riyan Parag 2.0 looks very different and hungry to prove himself_ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©IPL_X)
Riyan Parag plays as a proper batter due to Impact Player rule (Images: ©IPL/X)
Counter-views: limits the role of all-rounders, tilts the game towards batters 

Shastri's endorsement of the Impact Player rule contrasts sharply with the criticism from several high-profile cricketers. Rohit Sharma, for instance, is concerned that the rule might stifle the development of all-rounders. "I’m not a big fan... It’s going to hold back all-rounders. Cricket is played by 11, not 12 (players)," Rohit asserted. 

Similarly, other players like Axar Patel, Mukesh Kumar, Mitchell Starc and Jasprit Bumrah have voiced their reservations. Bumrah articulated his concerns, stating, "This format is a little difficult for the bowlers, with time restrictions and Impact Player rules. It gives the license to the batters to go after the bowlers, making it harder for bowlers to perform effectively. A bowler becomes half of what he actually is because of this rule."

Despite these criticisms, Shastri advises patience and openness to evolution in cricket. "When any new rule comes in, people will try and justify why that's not right. But in time when you see the scores - 200 and 190 - and then individuals grabbing that opportunity and making the most of it, people will start re-looking at how they think about it," he added.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary, Jay Shah, has noted that the rule’s permanence is not yet assured. The decision regarding its future application in IPL will be made after consulting stakeholders and considering the outcomes of the 2024 T20 World Cup.

Akash Chopra, a renowned cricket commentator and former India batter, has commented on the transformative effect of the rule. "The Impact Player rule has just allowed people to unlock what they could achieve. It has made them fearless, and that fearlessness is coming through. The batting can completely change if you're absolutely fearless," Chopra told ETV Bharat. He also noted the increase in close games since the introduction of the rule.

IPL 2024, DC vs RR, Key Takeaways_  Abhishek Porel scored  65 off 36 against RR _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_IPLT20)
Abhishek Porel played as impact player for Delhi this season (Images: ©BCCI/IPLT20)
The Impact player rule has helped the emergence of new talents

While the Impact Player rule has undoubtedly added a new dimension to the game, it has also spotlighted new talents. Emerging stars such as Punjab Kings' (PBKS) Ashutosh Sharma, Gujarat Titans' (GT) Sai Sudharsan, Delhi Capitals' (DC) Abhishek Porel, and many others have made significant contributions, demonstrating the potential of the rule to uncover new talents.

For example, Ashutosh Sharma (11 matches, 189 runs, strike rate 167.26) almost pulled out a miracle against Mumbai Indians (MI) being a lone warrior for Punjab. Ashutosh gave the Mumbai Indians a major scare with a spectacular innings of 61, but the five-time champions managed to edge out a nine-run victory over the Kings in IPL 2024. He had also won a game against Gujarat by scoring 32 odd runs in quick succession in the death to pull off a heist at Narendra Modi Stadium. 

Abhishek Porel has also showcased his batting talent this season, scoring 327 runs in 14 games at a strike rate of 159.51. Sai Sudarshan's (12 matches, 527 runs, 47.91 average, 141.29 strike rate), who smashed his maiden IPL century, struck 103 off 51 balls with five fours and seven sixes. 

Reservations still strong against the Impact Player rule 

Yet, not everyone is convinced. Virat Kohli has urged a rethink of the rule, expressing concerns about its impact on the balance of the game. "I agree with Rohit. Entertainment is one aspect of the game but there is no balance. Not everyone has a Bumrah in their team," Kohli said on JioCinema. He believes the rule disrupts the balance; a sentiment echoed by many bowlers who feel the rule disproportionately favours batters.

Moreover, the impact on all-rounders is a significant point of contention. All-rounders like Shivam Dube and Abhishek Sharma have seen their bowling opportunities diminish, despite their explosive batting capabilities. This raises questions about whether the rule is limiting the development of multi-faceted players who can contribute both with the bat and ball.

IPL 2024, LSG vs KKR_ Sunil Narine scored 81 off 39 against LSG _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_IPLT20)
KKR have posted two 250+ score this season (Images: ©BCCI/IPLT20)
Rise in scores, more thrilling finishes: visible impacts 

Shastri, however, remains optimistic about the rule’s potential to enhance the game. He pointed to the thrilling finishes in the last IPL season as evidence of the rule’s positive impact. "You saw the number of tight finishes we had in last year's IPL. So, you know, it has made a big difference," he noted. His perspective is shared by some who argue that the rule adds an exciting strategic layer to the game, making it more engaging for fans.

The impact of this rule is evident in the scoring patterns observed during the IPL 2024 season. Before 2024, only twice had 250+ totals been scored in the IPL. However, in the 2024 edition, teams scored 250+ runs eight times, highlighting the significant influence of the rule on game strategy and execution.

The Impact Player rule has sparked important discussions 

The ongoing debate about the Impact Player rule highlights the broader challenges and opportunities that come with introducing new regulations in sports. Cricket, like any other sport, must evolve to remain relevant and exciting. However, finding the right balance between innovation and tradition is crucial. 

The Impact Player rule, with its potential to transform game dynamics and uncover new talents, represents a bold step in this direction. Whether it will become a permanent feature in the IPL and possibly international cricket remains to be seen, but it has undoubtedly sparked important discussions about the future of the game.

As the cricket community continues to deliberate, the Impact Player rule stands as a testament to the sport’s ability to adapt and innovate. Its future will depend on the ongoing evaluations and the collective feedback of players, coaches, and fans. In the meantime, cricket enthusiasts can look forward to more thrilling finishes and the emergence of new stars, driven by the evolving dynamics of the game.


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