Cricket is set to do away with one of its oldest practices -- the use of saliva to polish the ball – as International Cricket Council (ICC) is gearing up to resume the operations amid coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The ICC cricket committee led by Anil Kumble has recommended some changes in the existing rules. The recommendation included banning the use of saliva, no neutral umpires and increase the use of Decision Review System (DRS).
However, the ICC Cricket Committee saw no health hazard in continuing with the use of sweat.
Saliva to shine the ball
The use of saliva to polish the ball has been a significant method used from early 90s, which help the bowler to reverse swing the ball after it gets old. If ICC accepts the recommendation on use of saliva, then it would be very hard for the bowler to get the swing. This will make the batsman more dominant. But the committee advocated the use of bowler-friendly pitches to balance the gap.
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Substitue for Saliva
The Anil Kumble headed committee, though, allowed the use of sweat to shine.
Recently, Australian manufacturer Kookaburra has also said that it will ready a wax applicator as an alternative to saliva and sweat to help bowlers shine cricket balls in the post Covid-19 world.
"Kookaburra's research and development centre in Australia has been working on a product to replace the traditional methods of polishing a ball that could be controlled and managed by the match umpire. We have developed a unique wax formula for polishing a cricket ball," Brett Elliott, group managing director of the brand, said on May 5.
"The pocket size sponge applicator would enable umpires or players to apply a thin layer of wax which could then be rubbed and polished in a traditional manner to enhance the shine on the ball," Kookaburra’s MD said.
‘Use of external substance will lead to ball-tampering’
According to cricket website ESPNcricinfo, the cricket committee has discussed the use of artificial substance for shinning the ball. But, it felt that the use of any artificial substance on the ball is termed as ball-tampering under the existing law. The Kumble-led committee felt bending the rule at present would lead to complications.
No neutral umpires
The committee also suggested the re-introduction of two non-neutral umpires in bilateral series at least till the time travelling becomes safer.
"Given the challenges of international travel with borders being closed, limited commercial flights and mandatory quarantine periods, the Committee recommended that local match officials be appointed in the short-term," the governing body stated in its release. The concept of having two neutral umpires officiating in matches came in 2002. From 1994 to 2001, it involved one local and one neutral umpire.
Are cricket boards have enough international level umpires?
The committee said that the appointments will continue to be made via the ICC from local Elite and International Panel referees and umpires.
Where there are no Elite Panel match officials in the country, the best local International Panel match officials will be appointed.
This effectively means that Anil Chaudhary, Shamshuddin and Nitin Menon can officiate in Test matches in India.
The use of DRS
However, the neutral umpires have been brought in the Test matches so that it would not favour the home team. The cricket committee also addressed this problem by suggesting the use of technology.
In case non-neutral umpires are introduced, then teams may get an additional DRS review (currently two per innings).
"The Committee also recommended that the use of technology is increased to support the appointments of a wider pool of umpires from around the world and has proposed an additional DRS review per team per innings is introduced in each format as an interim measure."