Covid-19: Cricket’s saliva ban creates a sticky situation for bowlers
With the International Cricket Council giving the use of saliva when shining a cricket ball the thumbs down‚ ball maintenance will now enter a new realm.
After an ICC cricket committee meeting that took place earlier this week‚ the use of saliva has been banned while using artificial substances still needs to be discussed.
Whatever the case may be‚ a centuries-long tradition of using spit on the leather has been done away with because of the novel coronavirus and how it spreads through saliva. It is indeed a new world for cricket and ball management.
Former Proteas paceman and current Knights head coach Allan Donald said not using spit to shine the ball will take some getting used to.
“It’s going to be tough to control because we’ve been doing that since the game started many moons ago. There’s going to be strict rules with regards to ball management. We’ve been doing it for a long time and it’s become such a habit‚ but I guess players will use common sense and be careful in terms of how they do it‚” Donald said.
He also said the ICC needs to look at alternative forms of ball management like throwing the ball on the bounce on the pitch square during certain times in a game to keep the bowlers interested.
“I’m not saying you’re allowed to bring bottle tops and all sorts of things on the field and biting the ball. There have been horrendous examples of ball tampering and that’s not on‚” Donald said.
“I do think you should be allowed to throw the ball in the dirt or on the pitch square for about four or five overs to get some movement going. When you go through that period and you haven’t shined the ball and found a really scuffed up side‚ you have to get the shiny looked after very well.”
“You don’t want to over-moisturise the shiny side while keeping the other side dry. Sometimes‚ that’s the only option you’ll have to change the game‚ especially when there’s the pitch square that you can use and that’s not a foreign element.”
Former Proteas all-rounder and SuperSport commentator Shaun Pollock was a bit more forthright‚ saying bowlers will learn to find a way to adapt to just using sweat only. He advocated against the use of nefarious methods to maintain the ball.
“People have used sweat for many years so they’ll find a way. It will be challenging‚ but people are conscious of working with the ball and keeping it in the best condition‚” Pollock said.
“It’s vital to any team so they assign specific people to shine the ball‚ so I suspect it’ll be a similar case now. It’s going to be a case of getting the right people in the right places from a ball management perspective.
“I don’t think tampering is the right word to use‚ but finding different ways going forward if the current one doesn’t work. Maybe that could be some sort of product down the line to polish it‚ but that’s not going to happen in the short term. I also don’t think the route of legally tampering with the ball will be pursued.”
When the question was put to Cricket South Africa with regards to ball management through sweat in the new normal that cricket will have to deal with‚ CSA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra said the jury was still out on whether sweat contains the virus that’s devastated the world.
“With the ICC‚ saliva is a no-no‚ but sweat seems to be an option. There’s a big debate around on whether sweat contains the virus. There’s a belief that it doesn’t‚ but I don’t believe that’s adequate‚” Manjra said.
Source: ARENA Holdings.