The legendary Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble-led ICC Cricket Committee has recently recommended banning using saliva on the balls but can continue using sweat on the balls. The veteran Indian off-spinner and Kumble’s long-time bowling partner for the Indian team, Harbhajan Singh has come up with a solution on how to handle this situation.
Players use saliva and sweat on the balls during the matches to shine the balls which ultimately help the bowlers. But in the present coronavirus pandemic, saliva allows transmitting the virus while sweat unlikely follows this rule, confirmed by the Chair of the ICC Medical Advisory Committee Dr Peter Harcourt.
So, the ICC Cricket Committee has recommended banning saliva on the balls but continuing with the sweat practice on the balls.
Harbhajan Singh comes out with another solution in this situation as he feels that it will be better to go with two new balls from both ends in the Test cricket. He has also added that each ball should be changed after getting 50-over old as sweat can’t shine the older balls, only make it heavier.
Harbhajan told YouTube channel Sports Tak, “You can use two new balls from both ends. One ball you can use for reverse swing, and the other ball you can use for swing.
“I would say not to use those two balls for 90 overs, change them after 50 overs. As both balls will get old by 50 overs. Then there will be no shine and it won’t come with sweat. The skipper should have an option to choose whether to use new ball from one end, or both ends. But one ball should not be used more than 50 overs.
“When ball will get old, it will not shine with sweat, it will only make it heavier. Now saliva is thick and when we use it on the ball repeatedly, it helps the skin of the ball to shine. Sweat can wet the ball and make it heavy but it cannot shine the ball especially when it is old.”
This is not a permanent solution I think: Harbhajan Singh
Talking about banning saliva on the balls, Harbhajan feels that it is not a permanent solution unless finding out the other options that can help to keep the even contest between bat and ball.
Harbhajan added, “This is not a permanent solution I think. If you don’t use saliva the bowler will go further away from the game. Especially in sub-continent conditions, you need to make the ball and you need saliva for that.
“We need to see what are the other options besides saliva which you can use on the ball to keep the contest between bat and ball even.”
Talking about issues for the spinners after the ban on saliva, Harbhajan feels that the spinners will find tougher to grip the older balls and the saliva-less old balls will decrease their spin-bowling skills.
He claimed, “If there is no shine on the ball, and if it is only heavy with sweat, the ball won’t hang in the air or it won’t dip and it won’t spin also a lot. There will be problems in gripping also.
“Bowlers will be in more problem. Sweat can only make the ball shine when it is new. But not once it is old.”
Recently, Harbhajan Singh criticised the ICC for decreasing the even contest between bat and ball in the ODI cricket. He feels that a few more bowlers need in the ICC panel.