Super Subs: All squad players should be allowed to play – a rule change that can redefine ODI Cricket

ODI cricket has now become a desultory format interspersed between the uncompromising Test and the spellbinding T20. Rule changes have been actively made to make ODI cricket more interesting.

Super subs were introduced and then shunned. Power plays were brought into effect and then truncated. Lately, ICC introduced a new rule whereby fielding teams can have only 4 fielders outside the 30 yard circle.

The intention of making this rule was to make cricket exciting during the middle overs. Prior to the rule change, teams were engrossed in getting a fast start in the first 10 overs, then building on the start and finishing the innings with a flourish in the final overs. This resulted in the middle overs being insipid. To rectify this, ICC reduced the two power play overs to one, while allowing only 4 fielders outside the 30 yard circle during the non-power play overs.

The batting power play was to be taken before the 40th over, according to the new law changes. Through these changes ICC expected batting teams to score at a breath taking speed in the middle overs, having the viewers glued to the game through out the 50 overs. But what has actually transpired is diametrically opposite.

Teams batting, now no more attempt to go after the bowling in the first 10 overs. The swing the two new balls engender has made teams to look to consolidate in the first overs, build partnerships, and save wickets for the late over onslaughts. With the new changes teams languidly play the first 35 overs and then they almost double the score in the last 15 overs. With wickets in hand teams scoring in excess of 150 runs in the last 15 overs have become mainstream.

This has made ODI cricket even more boring, with the actual contest beginning at the dawn of the 36th over. There are no more pinch hitters in ODI Cricket. Sehwags and Jayasuriyas have disappeared instead you find a new ilk of openers who look to consolidate, bat throughout the innings and finish with a flurry. A fine example is the approach adopted by Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan. Dilshan who was once an attacking opener, with rule changes now looks to play long innings giving his team a solid foundation to go bonkers at the end.

a href=”” target=”_blank”>Super Sub was a new rule introduced in 2005, whereby a team was allowed to nominate a substitute player before the toss. The substitute can replace a player at any point during a match. A player once replaced can not take any more part in the game. Teams having to nominate a super sub before the toss, caused a lot of confusion and tactical faux pas. A team losing the toss most often suffered from this rule, since they were not able to completely exploit the super sub.

For example, if a team nominates a bowler as a super sub, it will look to bat first on winning the toss, so that it could replace a batsman with the super sub when it fields. However, if a team loses the toss and bats first after having nominated a batsman as a super sub, then it cannot use the super sub, since replacing a bowler with a super sub will render the team a bowler short when fielding.

Complications of this sort resulted in captains clamouring for the annulment of this rule in one voice. The new exciting law, thus met with an untimely death.

With ODI matches increasingly becoming boring, ICC should consider bringing in a modified version of the Super Sub rule into cricket. This rule will add a different dimension to the format, evening out the battle between bat and ball.

The New Rule Change

A team should be allowed to play its full member squad in a match. Through this, a team would be able to maximize its resources in the 15 man squad. The rule would be very much similar to that used in warm up games: a team can choose any of the 11 players to bat and ball.


  • A team should name its 15 member squad prior to the toss
  • After the toss, the captain nominates the starting XI and the substitutes
  • A super sub can bat, field, bowl or keep wickets
  • Once a super sub replaces a player, the replaced player can no more be a part of the game, which allows only 4 substitutions to be made
  • Even though, all 15 will have a chance to play, only 11 of them can bat and bowl.
  • The player substituted can be anyone including a super sub

How teams can use this rule

A team batting first can name a starting XI with all the batsman in the 15 member squad in it, while a team batting second can name a starting XI with all the bowlers listed in it. If a team wants to name more batsmen due to their fielding ability, then they can nominate a starting XI consisting of those fielders. Then it can replace a bowler once he completes his quota of 10 overs. If a bowler is to have an off day, then the team can easily replace the bowler with another bowler in the squad.

This rule however requires a lot of tactical and managing skills, since a team may have to look into several factors before making a substitution.


This law will allow more depth in batting. Hence, team batting first will be forced to score at a brisk rate through out an innings, since with a steep batting line up chasing scores will become easy. This will make the middle overs in ODI unprecedentedly exciting.

Teams which are weak in batting and strong in bowling can name more batsmen to make their batting stronger and teams short on bowling can play more bowlers. Pakistan with a recent history of impractical collapses can avail itself by playing a long bating order, since their bowling attack is extremely strong. India on the other hand with its fortified batting can play more bowlers to strengthen its bowling. This will result in an even battle between ball and bat in cricket.

Further more, teams can make use of new ball specialist and dead over specialist more efficiently. In the case of India, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma are generally under bowled at the death, since the captain is not optimistic about their skills at the death. But their ability with the new ball makes it implausible to leave them out of the XI. On the other hand, Shami, who is expensive at the top and effective at the death cannot also be left out. This gives a captain a migraine of having to hide certain bowlers during certain stages.

But with this rule, a death over specialist can replace a new ball specialist at the right time. Bhuvneshwar can bowl his full quota of overs with the new ball and he can then be replaced by Shami to bowl at the death. This will allow the captain, the freedom to maximize a bowler’s ability and will reduce the need to bring in part timers.

Moreover, this rule will prevent low scoring games and one sided games. With  depth in batting, a team that is 4 down in the first 10 overs will always stand a chance to recover and post an appalling target. On the other hand, bowling teams can easily exploit the weaknesses of teams. More spinners can be bowled during the middle overs to strangle teams that struggle against spinners and faster bowlers can be employed to exploit teams’ weaknesses against pace. The beauty of this law is that teams will not have to trade a fast bowler to strengthen the spin department or vice-versa.

If a player is injured, he can take no more part in the game. But, according to the new rules, another player can be employed to replace the injured player. So teams will not have to forge a spell from a part timer nor will they have to bat with a batsman short.

If a bowler in the XI is going to have an off day, then the captain no more needs to hide him. The off color bowler can easily be replaced by another bowler.

Another addition is that a team will no more need to waste a spot in the XI to accommodate an impact player. For instance, Pakistan wastes a spot in the batting order by playing Shahid Afridi. He is not a reliable batsman but can be utilized as a pinch hitter during crunch moments.

In the case of Thisara Perera, Sri Lanka is forced to waste a place in the team to exploit his big hitting ability at the death. These impact players will never be consistent but are capable of turning matches on their own heads. Hence, teams will have to tolerate bouts of failures from these players to have them succeed when their teams need them the most.

With the rule changes, these player will no more waste a spot. A team can play an extra batsman or a bowler at their place, and they can replace a player in the side when the need to utilize them arises.


This rule will open up grounds for different strategies and tactics. An ODI match will become a game of chess with captains pulling their hairs out on different combinations and strategies that they can employ to ensnare the opposition. This will also make the role of a manager important as it is in soccer.

Timely decisions will have to be taken and a team should posses acumen and shrewdness to make game changing decisions. This will all make ODI cricket interesting.


Sri Lanka played the following XI in their last match against Pakistan

TM Dilshan
Upul Tharanga
Kumar Sangakkara
Mahela Jayawardena
Angelo Mathews
Ashan Priyanjan
Seekuge Prasanna
Thisara Perera
Damikka Prasad
Lasith Malinga
Rangana Herath

Here, Sri Lanka replaced Kulasekera with Damikka Prasad, since he was ineffective when the ball didn’t swing. But in swinging conditions Sri Lanka will have to face with dilemma of choosing between Prasad and Kulasekera, since Kulasekera is lethal when the ball swings. At the same time, Seekuge Prasanna cannot be reliable with the bat, even though he is a big hitter. Upul Tharanga is not a batsman who can give the team a fast start but Kusal Perera can blast the oppositions out in the first few overs. Hence, the team management will be forced to choose either Tharanga or Kusal Perera to open the innings.

Now let’s say Sri Lanka has the following 4 men as a part of the 15 men squad.

Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Nuwan Kulasekera and Ajantha Mendis. Since Sri Lanka has a fairly strong batting line up, they can afford to have 7 bowlers in the squad.

If Sri Lanka are going to bat first, then they can nominate the following players in the starting XI:

TM Dilshan
Kusal Perera
Kumar Sangakkara
Mahela Jayawardena
Angelo Mathews
Ashan Priyanjan
Upul Tharanga
Dinesh Chandimal
Thisara Perera
Seekuge Prasanna
Damikka Prasad

Here big hitters like Thisara Perera and Seekuge Prasanna will not be wasting a spot in the team, since the team will be able to play more than 7 batsmen anyhow. Depending on the situation Perera and Prasanna can be floated up whenever necessary.

Kusal Perera can be asked to go hard at the bowlers, and even if he losses his wicket that won’t affect the team much.

When the  bowling turn comes, Sri Lanka can replace Tharanga and Chandimal with Kulasekera and Mendis. Since Mendis is not a reliable fielder, Sri Lanka can field Chandimal instead of him, and when Kulasekera is bowled out then Mendis can replace him.

This will allow Kulasekera to use the new ball, and at the same time it will also allow Sri Lanka to use the pace of Damikka Prasad in the middle overs.

If this rule can be put into effect, a captain will have a vast array of resources to use. This will allow teams to exploit their resources in the best possible way. Most importantly, entertainment can be guaranteed through out the course of 50 overs, making all 50 overs enchanting.

This article was also published in Sportskeeda a href=””>here

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