For long, we have grown used to watching substitutes in football make an impact for their team from the bench. Who doesn’t love a late goal for their team from a Super Sub? Field hockey sees the use of substitutes in a completely different manner, with unlimited changes allowed from the sidelines from the available squad and teams use it regularly to keep their first XI fresh in a tiring setting.

The concept of substitution in cricket is not entirely new either, but it is something that never really took off in any real sense. The Super Sub was trialled in international cricket for a period. The Big Bash League had earlier introduced the concept of strategic substitutes with their X-Factor player rule that never quite clicked.

But, in a bid to add a strategic dimension to the game, the 2023 Indian Premier League will see the introduction of the Impact Player rule. This will allow teams to use an extra specialist bowler or batter depending on the situation in a match. With a crucial modification to playing conditions that the playing XI can be named after the toss by captains, this rule will effectively make matches 12 vs 12 in the upcoming season (although only 11 can bat).

What is the Impact Player rule in the IPL?

An Impact Player is similar to substitutes in other team sports like football, rugby and basketball. This will allow teams to make tactical changes to their side as the match progresses.

However, unlike the above mentioned sports, teams in the IPL will only be allowed to bring on one impact player as opposed to multiple players. Unlike basketball, for example, a player who has been replaced by an impact player in the IPL, can no longer take any part in the match.

After the toss, the captains will need to name a playing XI and five substitutes, of which only one player can be brought on as an Impact Player. Additionally, if the team already has four overseas players in the starting XI, the impact player cannot be an overseas player. Only if the first XI features fewer than four foreign players, can a non-Indian impact player be brought in.

It is, however, not compulsory. It is up to teams whether they want to use the impact player or not.

When can a team use an impact player?

Teams can use an impact player anytime during either innings of the match. Teams can introduce an impact player before the start of the innings, after an over is completed and after the fall of a wicket or a batter retiring at any point during the over.

An impact player can bat and also bowl a full allotment of four overs.

When an Impact Player is introduced in the middle of an over by a bowling team, he cannot bowl the remaining balls in the over.

When an Impact Player is introduced by a batting team, the player he replaces will be deemed to have retired out. It is important to note that only 11 players will be allowed to bat in each innings, so in this scenario, potentially one of the bowlers won’t bat.

How will the impact player be brought in?

The captain will nominate the impact player to the umpire and the umpire will signal in the manner stated below.

via iplt20

Can the impact player be substituted in case of concussion?

If an impact player suffers a concussion during the match, the team can replace him with a concussion substitute in accordance with the IPL Match Playing Conditions.

When can the impact player be non-Indian?

Impact player can only be Indian player unless there are less than four overseas players in the playing XI. An overseas player can be used as an impact player only in a situation where a team nominates less than overseas players in the starting XI. Only an overseas player who is part of five substitutes named in the team sheet can be used as an impact player. If a team introduces an overseas player as an impact player in a match, in no circumstance can a fifth overseas player take the field.

UPDATE: In Match No 2 of IPL 2023, both KKR and PBKS named four overseas players in the XI and one overseas player in the subs list. In this case, both Matt Short nor David Wiese CANNOT be Impact Players. But they can be substitute fielders.

Here’s the clarification from the main playing conditions:

1.2 Nomination and replacement of players


1.2.2: Only those nominated as substitute fielders shall be entitled to act as substitute fielders during the match (subject to clause 1.2.6), unless the IPL Match Referee, in exceptional circumstances, allows subsequent additions.


1.2.5 Each team may not name more than 4 Overseas players (as defined in the IPL Player Regulations) in its starting eleven for any match. 

1.2.6 A team may not have more than 4 Overseas players on the field of play at any time during any Match. Thus, if the team names the maximum 4 Overseas players in its starting XI, an Overseas player may only take the field as a substitute fielder if the player that he is replacing is an Overseas player. If the team names less than 4 Overseas players in its starting XI, Overseas players may only enter the field of play as substitute fielders to the extent that by doing so, they do not take the total number of Overseas players representing that team on the field to more than 4.

— via playing conditions

Batting and bowling impact players

An impact player may bowl a full allotment of four overs in an uninterrupted innings irrespective of the number of overs previously bowled by the player he is replacing.

Here’s the clause regarding retired batters in an innings. Note, in any situation, only 11 players can bat

What’s being said about it

Delhi Capitals Head of Talent Search Saba Karim had said before the auction, “The introduction of the Impact Player throws up a different kind of challenge all together. I think this rule will add more value to the Indian players. Many Indian players, who didn’t get an opportunity in the last season, may get a look in as an Impact Player in the next season. So, let’s see how it goes.”

DC head coach Ricky Ponting said recently, “It actually almost negates the role of allrounders in the game now. So unless they’re absolutely world-class and they’re getting picked either as a batsman or as a bowler, not sort of a bits and pieces guy, then I don’t think you’ll see many, many teams this year actually use the guy that might bat at seven and maybe bowling over or two. Because you don’t need those guys anymore.”

The Impact Player rule by itself could have meant there is a strategy to who teams bring in but in combination with the tweak regarding naming the XI after a toss, the rule has become a straight substitute, essentially, as per RCB’s Director Mike Hesson.

The Impact Player regulations are available here and the tournament playing conditions here.