Once cricket finally resumes , it has to face some very practical challenges in the post-Corona world . One of them , which has been in the news recently is the dilemma whether to shine the cricket ball with saliva or not . I believe for quite sometime post-Corona using saliva to shine the ball will take a backseat. So the what will happen to the parity between bat and ball ?
I have always maintained , if sweat and saliva can be used , then any other part of the body like use of nails, should not be illegal. The cricketing rules under section 41.3 and it’s sub-sections clearly state that It is an offence for any player to take any action which changes the condition of the ball. Except in carrying out his/her normal duties, a batsman is not allowed to wilfully damage the ball. See also Law 5.5 (Damage to the ball).A fielder may, however polish the ball on his/her clothing provided that no artificial substance is used and that such polishing wastes no time and/or remove mud from the ball under the supervision of an umpire and/or dry a wet ball on a piece of cloth that has been approved by the umpires.
I believe maintaining a cricket ball or preparing it for reverse swing is an art in itself as long as artificial substances like sand paper, bottle caps , Vaseline, spike nails etc are not used. This is my stand irrespective of what is going on in the world right now. In the post-Corona world, the authorities should have a re-look at these rules. With players staying away from using saliva and rightfully so , the bowlers are left handicapped in a major way .That is where I believe certain of the above mentioned artificial substances should be allowed to be used temporarily .
The operative words here are ‘certain’ not all and ‘temporarily’, not permanently. Defining ‘certain’ can be tricky , and the real question would be where do you stop ? I would say stop at any substance that can be applied on the ball and not detoriate the condition of the ball. Even though illegal but use of these artificial substances are not rare and we have some idea as to how the ball will behave post the use of these materials. I also believe that the match officials and the opposition should be made aware of the artificial substance the teams would be using before the game itself .
The other operative word here is ‘temporary’. This cannot be a permanent change. Once the situation is under control and we have won the war against Covid-19 for good, we will have to go back to the rules again except for the use of ‘nails’ which I would like to see striked off as illegal permanently.These are extremely unique times , we need to look outside the box and find unique solutions . Stay safe.