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Tendulkar questions ICC's ban on saliva use

Last updated on: June 09, 2020 20:30 IST
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‘So what happens to places like New Zealand or even England, when those typical cold English weather, so what does one do, when you are not going to sweat?’ Tendulkar asked during a social media interaction with former Australian pacer Brett Lee.

The International Cricket Council, in its new recommendations has asked bowlers to use sweat instead of saliva to shine the ball, but Indian cricket great Sachin Tendulkar has asked what are they supposed to do in the cooler confines of England and New Zealand where working up a sweat won't be that easy.

In a chat with former Australia fast bowler Brett Lee for social media platform '100 MB', Tendulkar spoke about the challenges for fast bowlers in adjusting to new playing conditions in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teams could be given a "quota" of wax per innings, Sachin Tendulkar recommended.

"If you're not going to allow saliva, and there are places where you don't sweat, why not use wax or some external substance?" Tendulkar said during his chat with Lee in the Indian's 100MB online app.

"So what happens to places like New Zealand or even England, when those typical cold English weather, so what does one do, when you are not going to sweat?" Tendulkar questioned.

"First thing is you put on a thermal or a long T-shirt. I remember when I was playing for Yorkshire, in 1992 and it was beginning of May and it was freezing. I had five layers on me. What happens now in these conditions, how do you shine the ball, when there is no sweat?" the legend said.

Teams could be given a "quota" of wax per innings, the former India captain recommended.

Lee said denying the bowlers an alternative would be "unfair".

"Maybe try a new substance that they can potentially use that everyone agrees on, that the batsmen are happy with, that the bowlers are happy with," said Lee, who retired from international cricket in 2012.

"I like the idea of having a tub of wax... it's a very good idea."

 The Australian felt a saliva ban would be tough to police and match officials should be lenient.

 "There has to be a lot of leniency, maybe 2-3 warnings per player because I can guarantee you, if the players are told they can't do it, they won't do it on purpose but I think it will happen through natural instinct," he added.

Saliva is primarily used on a new ball while sweat is used on the old ball when reverse swing comes into play.

"Whatever period we have played, we have used saliva when the ball was new, and when the ball starts reversing, from saliva you move to sweat to make one side heavier. And that imbalance in weight will help the ball go in that direction. 

"I found there were two ways to get the ball to reverse, one was to have imbalance in weight and the other one was to keep it smoother, so there is less friction and it travels faster, when scuffed up," Tendulkar explained.

The former India captain said in such a situation, the fielding side is left with just the sweat option, which is much lighter.

"So you are basically left with one option, isn't it, because the other option of shining and saliva and not focusing much on getting that side heavy, that option is more or less ruled out, it's only the sweat one would have to work on," the 47-year-old, who played 200 Tests, said.

Tendulkar also recommended the introduction of a second new ball in Tests after every 50 or 55 overs to aid fast bowlers on unresponsive pitches.

"In Test cricket, suddenly if the surfaces are not good, the standard of playing I feel drops down. And above all the game slows down because, the batters knows if I don't play a stupid shot here, no one can get me out and the bowler knows, on this surface I have to be patient," Tendulkar said.

"But why not then to get the game moving, have a new ball after every 45-50 or 55 overs because in ODI cricket we have to play only 50 overs, and you have two new balls there, so literally 25 overs, so that's it," said Tendulkar.

Tendulkar compared his proposal to day-night ODI cricket. 

"So here in Test cricket, if you are not going to allow saliva, and sometimes you won't sweat as much depending on climate where you are playing, it could be a lot like day/night one dayers," the maestro said.

"In ODI cricket, bowling when conditions are dry in day night match and bowling second when there is lot of dew on the ground, so on paper the conditions and rules are exactly the same, but on field conditions are totally different, it's chalk and cheese," he said.

Tendulkar also wondered as to how sweat is not considered unhygienic compared to saliva.

It must be mentioned that ICC allowed use of sweat as a research concluded that it's not a transmitter of the deadly virus.

"Now it is considered that putting saliva is unhygienic, is putting sweat on the ball hygienic?," he asked.

"With this mindset that we have now of social distancing, is putting sweat on the ball hygienic. I would think twice, now it is somewhere registered that you know it can't be hygienic."

"So when you apply sweat on the ball, it really cleans the dirt on the ball. When you apply saliva it is kind of concentrated and you can actually work better on the ball," the world's highest run-getter said.

Tendulkar, during his playing days, was one of the designated ball shiners of the team.

"Over a period of time, I realised that I used to maintain the ball for the team, and there were a number of guys who were designated, we would take it in turns.

"Each session there were two three guys who looked after the ball and then someone else would take care of it in the next session," he remembered.

Australian cricket-ball manufacturer Kookaburra said last month it had developed a wax applicator to enhance shine and aid swing.

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