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Sweat a good alternative to saliva, but...

By HARISH KOTIAN
June 02, 2020 14:28 IST
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'In cold weather conditions, when you are not sweating at all, how do you use sweat?'

Stuart Broad

IMAGE: England pacer Stuart Broad uses saliva to shine the ball during a Test match. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
 

With the International Cricket Council recommending a ban on saliva to shine the ball once cricket resumes in the post-coronavirus world, sweat has emerged as a likely substitute with the governing body also barring application of external substances like wax polish.

India's sports manufacturer SG (Sanspareils Greenlands) along with Australia's Kookaburra were working on wax polish to help bowlers shine the ball but ICC's latest directive has put paid to their efforts.

SG believe a few minor changes in the ball could help the bowlers in the absence of saliva.

"Just ensure that the seam is a bit more pronounced and the ball to be a tad harder, so that there is more assistance for the bowlers," SG's Marketing Director Paras Anand tells Harish Kotian.

Though sweat could have the same impact as saliva, Anand says the former is largely dependent on the weather conditions and may not come into play when conditions are cold.

"If the weather is hot and humid, then there is availability of sweat. But if you are playing on a winter morning, then probably only the bowler is sweating, while most of the fielders don't get enough physical movement to sweat," Anand points out.

"So that is a concern. In cold weather conditions, when you are not sweating at all, how do you use sweat?"

"That is why with saliva you are not dependent on the weather, you can use it anytime," adds Anand. "But if you are sweating, then it has the same effect, it helps you in polishing and shining the ball like you do with saliva."

India's premier fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah believes an alternative must be provided to the bowlers in place of saliva.

'If the ball is not well maintained, it's difficult for the bowlers,' Bumrah told Ian Bishop and Shaun Pollock on the ICC's video series Inside Out.

'The grounds are getting shorter and shorter, the wickets are becoming flatter and flatter. So we need something, some alternative for the bowlers to maintain the ball so that it can do something, maybe reverse in the end or conventional swing,' Bumrah explained.

SG will await further instructions from the game's administrators before conducting further experiments.

"We would wait for the BCCI to ask us to work on specifications than doing something on our own," says Anand.

There are other options like leaving more grass on the pitch to address the balance in cricket matches, he points out.

"If you see what they did with the pink ball, they left more grass on the pitch and the matches finished by the first session on the third day," Anand adds, "so there are alternatives to get that balance between bat and ball."

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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