Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins has weighed into the debate following the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) recommendation to ban the use of saliva to shine balls during the coronavirus era.
Earlier this week, the ICC’s Cricket Committee made the recommendation to ban saliva but not sweat for health and safety reasons, which needs to be signed off by the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee early next month.
The logic was that it’s “highly unlikely” sweat can transmit coronavirus, but saliva poses more of a threat, meaning its use needs to be cancelled.
Saliva has long been used on cricket balls to shine one side, while the other side gets scuffed up, in order to make the ball swing with the view to the bowler deceiving the batsman.
Cummins, who is one of Australia’s leading bowlers at the moment, accepted the decision to remove saliva but said it was important bowling sides had another option.
“If we remove saliva, we have to have another option,” Cummins told cricket.com.au.
“Sweat is not bad, but I think we need something more than that, ideally. Whatever that is, wax or I don’t know what.
“If that’s what that science is telling us, that it’s high risk using saliva … as long as we’re keeping other options open, whether that’s sweat or something artificial.
“We have to be able to shine the ball somehow so I’m glad they’ve let sweat remain.”
There has been talk of cricket ball manufacturers potentially creating new balls which swing without the need for saliva.
Cricket has long had a history of controversial methods to shine a ball, including lollies leading to ball-tampering allegations, while the infamous Sandpaper incident was an attempt to scuff the other side of the ball to induce swing.
The point is there are strict ICC regulations around the substances permitted to help enable a ball to swing, meaning it’s a sensitive area.
Cummins reiterated it was important that bowling sides weren’t hurt further by the ban, given the game’s continued evolution in the batsmen’s favour.
“In the last few years, I feel like it’s hardly swung at all,” Cummins said.
“Hopefully, like we always say, the wickets will be a bit juicer to suit us bowlers.”